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United States Postal Service
November 12, 1997
Stamp News Release Number 97-096



WASHINGTON, Mars Pathfinder, which brought spectacular images of the "Red Planet" to Earth, will conduct its next mission on the surface of a U.S. postage stamp.

The U.S. Postal Service announced today it will issue a $3 Priority Mail stamp commemorating the historic Mars Pathfinder mission. The stamp will be officially dedicated in a ceremony at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. on December 10.

"As one of the most significant achievements in the history of America’s space program, it is fitting that the Pathfinder Mission be honored on a U.S. postage stamp," said Postmaster General Marvin Runyon. "When this stamp lands in stamp collections or on Priority Mail pieces nationwide, it will be a reminder of the unmatched ingenuity that leads the world in space exploration."

Based on the first image received from the Mars Pathfinder after its landing on the Martian surface July 4, 1997, the stamp features the Sojourner rover resting on the Pathfinder with a panoramic view of the Ares Vallis region of Mars in the background. Informational text about the Pathfinder mission is printed on the reverse of the stamp sheet. Fifteen million of the stamps have been printed.

"That first historic image of Pathfinder and the rover sitting safely on Mars ignited worldwide interest in our efforts to explore Mars," said JPL Director Dr. Edward C. Stone. "It is an honor for this mission to be recognized by issuance of this special U.S. postage stamp."

The Mars Pathfinder stamp is the third U.S. stamp subject to incorporate hidden images to prevent counterfeiting, while adding an interesting design element. The hidden text -- Mars Pathfinder, July 4, 1997 and the letters USPS --is not visible to the naked eye but can be viewed by using a decoder lens, which is available through the Postal Service's Philatelic Fulfillment Center in Kansas City, MO. The U.S. Air Force and Classic Movie Monsters stamps issued earlier this year also feature hidden images.

Since its Independence Day landing, Pathfinder has returned 2.6 billion bits of information, including more than 16,500 images, as well as chemical analyses of rocks and extensive data on winds and other weather factors. After operating on the surface of Mars three times longer than expected, the mission began winding down last week as daily communications with the lander and rover were officially halted.

Scientific highlights of the Mars Pathfinder mission:

Engineering milestones of the mission included demonstrating a new way of delivering a spacecraft to the surface of Mars by way of direct entry into the Martian atmosphere. In addition, Mars Pathfinder demonstrated for the first time the ability of engineers to deliver a semi-autonomous roving vehicle capable of conducting science experiments to the surface of another planet.

The Mars Pathfinder mission is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, DC. The mission is the second in the Discovery program of fast track, low-cost spacecraft with highly focused science goals. JPL is managed by the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA.

Source: NASA


Issue:                         Mars Pathfinder
Denomination & Type of Issue:  $3.00 Souvenir Sheet
Format:                        Pane of one (one design)
Issue Date & City:             December 10, 1997, Pasadena, CA
Photographer:                  NASA
Designer:                      Terry McCaffrey, USPS, Stamp Services
Engraver:                      Armotek Industries
Art Director:                  Terry McCaffrey, USPS, Stamp Services
Typographer:                   Terry McCaffrey, USPS, Stamp Services
Modeler:                       Donald H. Woo
Manufacturing Process:         Gravure
Printer:                       Stamp Venturers (SVS)
Printed at:                    SVS, Richmond, VA
Press Type:                    Gravure
Stamps Per Pane/Sheet:         One
Print Quantity:                15 million stamps
Paper Type:                    Type III
Gum Type:                      Water-activated PVA
Processed at:                  SVS, Fredericksburg, VA

Colors (PMS Colors):           Magenta, Yellow, Cyan, Black, Metallic
Image Area:                    1.5 x 3.0 in. / 38.10 x 76.20 mm
Overall Size:                  1.5 x 3.0 in. / 38.10 x 76.20 mm
Full Pane Size:                3.25 x 5.75 in. / 82.55 x 146.05 mm
Plate Size:                    18 stamps per revolution
Plate Numbers:                 "S" followed by five (5) single digits
Catalog Item Number:           559800 Pane of one - $3.00


Customers have 30 days to obtain the first day of issue postmark by mail. They may purchase the new stamps at their local post office, affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes (to themselves or others), and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:

PASADENA CA 91109-9998

After applying the first day of issue postmark, the Postal Service returns the envelope through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark. All orders must be postmarked by January 9, 1998. The Philatelic Fulfillment Service Center also offers first day covers for new stamp issues and postal stationery items postmarked with the official first day of issue cancellation. Each item has an individual catalog number and is offered in the quarterly USA Philatelic catalog. Customers may request a free catalog by writing to: USA PHILATELIC CATALOG, US POSTAL SERVICE, PO BOX 419014, KANSAS CITY, MO 64179-6014, or by telephoning 1 800 STAMP-24. First day covers remain on sale for at least one year after the stamp's issuance.