SALT LAKE CITY — In anticipation of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft returning asteroid samples to Earth, the U.S. Postal Service unveiled a commemorative stamp today during a dedication ceremony at the Clark Planetarium.
Robert Raines, the Postal Service’s business solutions vice president, highlighted the significance of the mission during the ceremony. “We would all agree that this mission exemplifies the best of American innovation. That’s why the Postal Service is proud to recognize it — and to add OSIRIS-REx to the long list of U.S. stamps honoring remarkable achievements in ingenuity, perseverance, and teamwork,” he said.
The stamp was released as part of an effort to commemorate the mission’s contributions to scientific understanding. The director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, Lori Glaze, noted that the samples will offer groundbreaking insights. “OSIRIS-REx will give us amazing insights into the formation and early evolution of the solar system; in particular, we anticipate the samples will provide new information about the kinds of materials that made up our infant Earth,” she said.
Mike Puzio, an engineering student at North Carolina State University, spoke on the impact of the mission on his life. Puzio had won a contest in 2013, when he was in third grade, to name the asteroid Bennu. “It feels surreal just thinking about it. Opportunities from OSIRIS-REx have changed my life, and remembering that I am a known part of that baffles me sometimes,” Puzio said.
The mission’s acronym, OSIRIS-REx, stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security-Regolith Explorer. Launched from Cape Canaveral, FL, on Sept. 8, 2016, the spacecraft is about the size of a large passenger van. It orbited the sun for a year before Earth’s gravity propelled it towards the asteroid Bennu. After arriving in December 2018, it began the intricate task of mapping Bennu’s surface and ultimately collecting samples in October 2020.
The samples, weighing an estimated 8.8 ounces, represent the largest ever collected from an asteroid and the first by the United States. The spacecraft began its journey back to Earth on May 10, 2021, with the samples enclosed in a unique capsule set to parachute into the Utah desert on Sept. 24, 2023.
The stamp artwork was crafted by Alan Dingman, based on NASA’s images, and designed by Antonio Alcalá, an art director for USPS. It features the sample capsule parachuting to the Utah Test and Training Range, a U.S. Department of Defense facility, with additional imagery capturing key milestones of the mission.
To get more details about the OSIRIS-REx mission, the public can visit www.nasa.gov/osirisrex.
The OSIRIS-REx mission collaborates with NASA, the University of Arizona, and Lockheed Martin. The mission has been noted for its exemplification of American ingenuity, perseverance, and teamwork. The stamp, issued as a pane of 20 Forever stamps, is available for purchase and will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1?ounce price.
The stamp release news is being shared with the hashtag #OSIRISRExStamp.