New stamp parachutes in Sept. 22 to celebrate completion of OSIRIS-REx mission
By Charles Snee
On Sept. 22, two days prior to the projected completion of the seven-year OSIRIS-REx mission to gather rocks and dust from the asteroid Bennu and return them to Earth, the United States Postal Service will issue a forever stamp in celebration of that remarkable achievement.
The new nondenominated (66¢) commemorative for the OSIRIS-REx mission, a surprise addition to the 2023 U.S. program, was first revealed in a March 14 press release from the USPS.
According to an Aug. 17 Postal Service press release, the stamp will be issued Friday, Sept. 22, at 11 a.m. local time (Mountain Daylight Time) at the Clark Planetarium, 110 S. 400 W., in Salt Lake City.
Robert Raines, vice president of business solutions for the USPS, will serve as the dedicating official.
Joining Raines on the stage will be Lori Glaze, planetary science division director for NASA; and Michael Puzio, an engineering student who gave Bennu its name in 2013 when he was 9 years old.
(Puzio had entered the Planetary Society’s Name That Asteroid contest; his name was selected from more than 8,000 entries. According to the Planetary Society, Puzio “argued that the Touch-and-Go Sample Mechanism (TAGSAM) arm and solar panels on OSIRIS-REx look like the neck and wings in drawings of Bennu, which Egyptians usually depicted as a gray heron.”)
Collectors desiring to attend the ceremony, which is free and open to the public, are asked to register online with the Postal Service.
Each attendee may invite up to two additional guests, the Postal Service said.
“The OSIRIS-REx mission is currently ongoing,” wrote Charles J. Vukotich Jr. in his Exploring Astrophilately column in the July 24 issue of Linn’s Stamp News. “The mission’s name is an abbreviation for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer.”
The stamp celebrates NASA’s seven-year OSIRIS-REx mission to study and map the asteroid Bennu and return a sample of the surface to Earth,” the Postal Service said. “This is the first pristine sample of an asteroid collected by the United States, and it will help scientists learn how our solar system formed.”
OSIRIS-REx began its return to Earth more than two years ago, on May 10, 2021. The spacecraft was launched Sept. 8, 2016, from Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Postal Service contract printer Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. of Williamsville, N.Y., printed the OSIRIS-REx stamp in panes of 20 with decorative selvage (margin paper). A total of 18 million stamps in 900,000 panes of 20 were produced for sale at post offices and other philatelic outlets across the country.
Artist Alan Dingman of Wappingers Falls, N.Y., illustrated the stamp and the scenes shown in the selvage, which are based on images provided by NASA.
“When it reaches within 63,000 miles (or 102,000 kilometers) of Earth’s surface – about one-third the distance from Earth to the Moon – the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will release the sample capsule,” NASA said.
On Sept. 24, the OSIRIS-REx capsule containing the sample of dust and rocks from Bennu is scheduled to land via parachute in the desert at the Utah Test and Training Range.
Dingman’s depiction of the capsule tethered to its parachute appears in the top right corner of the design. “OSIRIS-REx Return To Earth” is printed in capital letters across the bottom.
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