Your chance to lick Pluto

By Phil Plait | March 6, 2012 10:50 am

I got a note from astronomer Alan Stern, who is the Principal Investigator on the Pluto New Horizons probe currently on its way for a 2015 flyby of the diminutive world. There’s a drive to get a US postal stamp made to honor Pluto, and Alan was letting me know the petition is doing well, but has a long way to go: they almost at 10,000 signatures, but they want 100,000!

You can read more about this in my post from early February. I think this is a pretty nifty idea, and if you do too go and sign the petition. If we can get this rolling now, a stamp will be issued to surplant the one made in 1990 that said Pluto has "Never been Explored"… just in time for that to be no longer true.

But hurry — your last chance to sign the petition is March 13, in just a week. Go!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff

Comments (18)

  1. How do I put a stamp on my email? ūüėõ

    And I hate the taste, don’t they have self adhesive ones now?

    My apologies for the lameness of this post, to actually get a stamp for poor Pluto would indeed be very cool. Signed!

  2. Thopter

    Shouldn’t we wait for it to actually get there and do some exploring before we start making commemorative items of its first-ever exploration? What if it arrives and then promptly crashes into Charon or otherwise breaks down?

  3. Hazael

    As far as I’m concern in order to create a commemorative stamp you need to create the petition with 3 years of anticipation, that’s why they’re doing this now.

  4. Jim Johnson

    I refuse to insert a Uranus joke here.

  5. Marcum

    Awesome stamp, you can even see the RTG.

  6. Chris

    When the stamp rolls out, will hey put an actual picture from the probe of Pluto?

  7. I'd lick it

    Hehehehehehe Uranus joke. Seriously, though, this is pretty cool. I’ll sign. :)

  8. mike burkhart

    I can’t wait to see New Horizons pictures of Pluto , I’m wondering what they will show ,the pictures form the many space probes of the planets,moons and asteriods have shown us a lot of surprises maybe Nwe Horizons will to. I like the Stamp.

  9. renke

    does a licked Pluto smell like a wet dog?

  10. Chris has a good point. The design of the stamp should be tentative, with the final closest approach images of Pluto & Charon inserted at last minute, then the presses roll out the stamp. You wouldn’t be able to get a stamp cancelled on the day of loosest approach, but at least the planet’s image would be correct. It might take a week to get correct stamps out the door, though…

  11. Ken

    I’m afraid that if I licked Pluto my tongue would freeze to it!

  12. SkyGazer

    Licking Pluto is kinda goofy.

  13. Alan Stern


    Thanks loads for helping us at New Horizons! J

    Just one thing–when you call Pluto diminutive, remember, a drive around Pluto’s equator is is very close to the drive from New York City to Hawaii! Not exactly a walk around the block…


  14. Mark Hansen

    Thopter has a good point. A “Dewey defeats Truman” type headline on a stamp could be a little embarrassing.

  15. db26

    Forever, the 9th planet.

  16. Alan Stern

    Mark- I agree, I think we all do, but the USPS requires a 3-yr head start to commission a stamp; we can always pull the plug if the unexpected happens, but if we wait till after flyby, the stamp won’t happen till 2018, when it’ll be old news.


  17. Messier Tidy Upper

    @15. db26 : “Forever, the 9th planet.”

    Seconded by me. Pluto is and shall always remain my favourite planet. :-)


    “…Marc Buie [Pluto specialist] can very easily imagine what it must be like to walk around on Pluto: with less than 1% of your weight on Earth because of the low gravity, at temperatures of 230 degrees below zero, in the twilight because the Sun is nothing more than a dazzling star in the black sky, across snowfields of methane ice and transparent crystals of frozen nitrogen and with a gigantic moon hanging overhead – at least if you are on the right side of the planet.”
    – Page 61, ‘The Hunt For Planet X’, Govert Schilling, Copernicus Books, 2009.

    NB. We now know there are also three other smaller Plutonian moons – Nix, Hydra and P4 which was discovered last year and hasn’t yet been given a proper name that I’m aware of anyhow.

  18. db26

    For me, any object that orbits a star, and is large enough to have objects orbit itself (moons) is a planet in my book.


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