World Stamps

United Nations stamps celebrate historic period of Mars exploration

Apr 28, 2022, 2 PM

By David Hartwig

Three recent missions to destinations on and around Mars have marked a historic period of exploration of the Red Planet. A United Nations Postal Administration April 24 issue celebrates these achievements.

The Planet Mars set includes six stamps (two for each U.N. post office), each in panes of 10, and three souvenir sheets offering three additional stamps (one for each U.N. post office).

“As an inseparable celestial companion of Earth, Mars has been a source of curiosity for mankind since time immemorial,” the UNPA said in a press release. “The space community has long strived to uncover the mysteries of Mars and has taken exceptional steps forward in 2021.”

The stamps for use from the post office at U.N. headquarters in New York City feature the Proctor Crater of Mars on the 58¢ denomination and the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover on the $1.30 stamp. The souvenir sheet, also denominated $1.30, shows the Mars 2020 Ingenuity Helicopter.

The image of the Proctor Crater on the 58¢ stamp comes from a Feb. 9, 2009, picture taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, according to NASA.

The Perseverance Rover and Ingenuity Helicopter landed on Mars Feb. 18, 2021, as part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Mars 2020 mission. The objective of this mission, expected to last at least one year on Mars (or about 687 days on Earth), is to collect rock and soil samples while seeking signs of ancient life on the planet, according to the UNPA.

The stamps for use from the U.N. post office at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, show a picture of Mars on the 1.10-franc stamp, preparations to launch the Emirates Mars mission on the 1.50fr stamp, and the United Arab Emirates Hope Probe on the 2fr souvenir sheet.

The United Arab Emirates Hope Probe took the picture on the 1.10fr stamp. The probe, which just entered Martian orbit Feb. 9, 2022, is studying the atmosphere and climate of the planet, according to the UNPA.

“In Hope’s first year, the orbiter confirmed the existence of a discrete aurora, a highly localized atmospheric phenomenon on the night side of the planet, and took note of water-bearing clouds that grow and shrink daily,” the UNPA said.

The stamps for use from the post office at the Vienna International Center in Vienna, Austria, show elements from Tianwen-1, the first Mars mission for the China Nations Space Administration (CNSA).

The €0.85 stamp pictures the pre-selected landing area for Tianwen-1 mission, the €1 stamp features the Zhurong Rover operating on Mars, and the Zhurong Rover Landing Platform is shown on the €1.80 souvenir sheet.

The Tianwen-1 mission consists of an orbiter, two deployable cameras, lander, remote camera and the Zhurong Rover. According to the UNPA, the purpose of the mission is to both explore the surface of Mars and orbit the planet. The mission landed on the surface of Mars on May 15, 2021.

The UNPA outlined important objectives for space exploration in its press release about the stamps: “As humankind races toward Mars, it is important that countries work together to promote international cooperation and peaceful use and exploration of space, and in the utilization of space science and technology for sustainable economic and social development.”

These objectives, according to the UNPA, are promoted by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs. This office acts as the administrative organization for the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, according to the organization’s website.

The UNPA previously issued stamps related to peace in outer space. In 2018, the UNPA honored UNISPACE+50, the 50th anniversary celebration of the first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space with a set of six stamps and three souvenir sheets (Scott New York 1196-1198, Geneva 653-655, Vienna 623-625).

Sergio Baradat of the United Nations designed the new Planet Mars stamps using images supplied by the Emirate Mars Mission team, CNSA and NASA with the support of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.

Cartor Security Printing of France printed the stamps by offset hexachrome in the following quantities: 19,000 panes each of the 58¢, $1.30, 1.10fr and 1.50fr stamps; and 29,500 panes each of the €0.85 and €1 stamps. Each stamp measures 30 millimeters by 40mm.

The souvenir sheets were printed in quantities of 25,000 for the $1.30 and 2fr sheets and 82,000 for the €1.80 sheet. The souvenir sheets are 82mm by 82mm each with stamps that are 44mm by 44mm.

The UNPA held a pre-launch ceremony for the stamps April 23 at the Westpex stamp show in San Francisco.

For ordering information for these new Planet Mars stamps and related products, visit the UNPA website; email unpanyinquiries@un.org; telephone 212-963-7684 or 800-234-8672; or write to UNPA, Box 5900, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163-5900.

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