Royal Mail has today issued six new stamps which take a journey around our solar system, revealing the beauty and mystery of the other worlds that also orbit the Sun. The Space Science issue celebrates Britain’s role in the exploration of space and marks the 50th anniversary of Ariel 1, the first British satellite.
Two 1st class stamps show the Sun, our nearest star, and Venus, as seen from the Venus Express probe.
The two 77p stamps feature a shot of ice within an impact crater on the surface of Mars and the diamond-shaped asteroid Lutetia, captured by the Rosetta probe.
Perhaps one of the most exciting developments was the historic landing of the Huygens probe upon Saturn’s largest moon Titan, featured on one of the £1.28p stamps, revealing a landscape remarkably similar to that of Earth. The other £1.28p stamp features the beautiful icy rings of Saturn, lit up by the Sun behind, which were photographed by the Cassini probe.
All the extraordinary images captured for the Space Science issue were taken by the European Space Agency‘s (ESA) satellites and probes. As a member of the ESA, Britain’s scientists, universities and companies have made significant contributions to its missions, such as Mars Express and the Cassini-Huygens probe to Saturn.
In the Space Science Presentation Pack that accompanies this issue, astronomy journalist Dr Stuart Clark takes a look at our solar system and the recent European probes that have explored it.
Philip Parker, Royal Mail Stamps spokesperson, said:
In previous astronomy issues we had looked at the distant galaxies, so for this issue we decided to take a more ‘local’ approach and explore our home solar system.
We worked closely with the European Space Agency to determine the content of this issue, and the designers selected recent images gathered by ESA space observatories and probes to produce this fascinating set of stamps.
Two different pictorial ‘first day of issue postmarks’ are available to accompany this stamp issue.
Stamps and stamp products are available at most Post Office branches, online at www.royalmail.com/spacescience and from Royal Mail Tallents House (tel. 08457 641 641), 21 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB.