Planets on Stamps, 1970s

Since the Artemis I launch was postponed today, maybe some space stuff here instead. I’ve sold or given away most of the collections I began in childhood. Still, they interest me. Stamps and space combined, yay.

It was the 1970s that found NASA probing new frontiers at Mercury, Jupiter, and the surface of Mars. The USPS kept pace with commemorative issues. First came Jupiter:

… then the two innermost planets of our solar system.

Surprisingly, the Mars stamp came two years after the Viking landing. The first appearance of the red planet on a US stamp, despite decades of interest and curiosity.

Commentary:

  • The designs are very much in keeping with the 70s. The probes are faithfully reproduced in front of stylized versions of the planets.
  • The real backgrounds of these planets are black, and the stars would be seen as pinpoints, bit the little circles in clusters do look cool.
  • The Pioneer and Mariner missions were the first to use the planetary slingshot method to hit up two or more planets in one mission. Mariner saved fuel getting to Mercury swinging by Venus first. After the first Pioneer achieved its success, the mission planners decided to roll the dice with number 2 to Jupiter. The second mission was aimed 43,000 miles above the king of planets to send it to Saturn, as we discussed here.
  • Why do space agencies and scientists want to go back? We can’t learn enough about the universe.

Image credits: By US Post Office; Bureau of Engraving and Printing – US Post Office; Hi-res scan of postage stamp by Gwillhickers, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9977109

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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