What’s the furthest a postage stamp has travelled? How about three billion miles? That’s how far this stamp will have gone by next week when the New Horizons spacecraft it’s attached to passes by the (dwarf) planet Pluto:
They are three words that soon will never be used to describe the dwarf planet Pluto again, and they are about to witness their own expiration.
“Not yet explored.”
The phrase, which first appeared in 1991 along the bottom of a 29-cent U.S. postage stamp depicting Pluto, is now affixed – in the form of one those 24-year-old stamps – on NASA’s New Horizons robotic probe, which as of Tuesday (July 7) is just one week out from flying by the mysterious dwarf planet.
The encounter will make space history — completing the initial reconnaissance of our classical solar system — and by the nature of the stamp being onboard, will make some postal history too. Not only is it thought to be the first time that a U.S. postage stamp has been present for the event that effectively made its design outdated, but it is also the farthest that any stamp has ever traveled before.