James Webb Space Telescope photos to feature on US Priority Mail stamps in 2024 (Image Credit: Space.com)
The United States Postal Service (USPS) is granting priority status to the work of the James Webb Space Telescope.
As announced on Monday (Oct. 23), the USPS plans to release two 2024 Priority Mail postage stamps, each featuring a cosmic image captured by the observatory.
“Stamps are miniature works of art and often tell a story that highlights our American culture, our people or an important point in our history,” said Lisa Bobb-Semple, acting Stamp Services director for the USPS, in a statement. “Stamps also allow us to show what’s important to us as we carefully select which stamp adorns our mailpieces.”
“The 2024 stamps were designed to offer the American public a broad array of choices for those looking to collect stamps or send a special message,” Bobb-Semple said.
The 2024 $9.65 Priority Mail stamp showcases Webb’s infrared view of the Eagle Nebula, offering an alternate look at one of the Hubble Space Telescope‘s most iconic images. Webb’s version of the “Pillars of Creation” reveals a landscape otherwise invisible to the human eye.
“By assigning color to various wavelengths … red areas toward the end of the pillars show burgeoning stars ejecting raw materials as they form, while relatively small red orbs scattered throughout the image show newly born stars,” reads the postal service’s description of the upcoming issue.
“Red and yellow flares scattered throughout the cliffs show developing and newly born stars. The orange-and-brown clouds in the lower third of the image are swirls of dust and gas,” the stamp’s description reads. “Additional stars, in our Milky Way and in distant galaxies, appear in the blue and black regions above and beyond the nebula.”
Greg Breeding, a USPS art director, designed both stamps using images provided by NASA, the European Space Agency, the Canadian Space Agency and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which manages Webb’s science activities.
Release dates for the two Webb stamps have yet to be announced. Their designs were unveiled on Monday alongside two dozen other planned issues ranging in theme from the holidays to U.S. history to animals. Additional 2024 stamp themes will be revealed in the weeks and months ahead, according to the USPS.
The 2024 Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express stamps mark the second time that the USPS has highlighted the James Webb Space Telescope on postage. In 2022, the postal service released a Forever denomination stamp featuring a rendering of what the Webb looked like after it entered service in deep space.