Gorgeous images of our sun captured by NASA’s space-based Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) have been issued as postage stamps by the U.S. Postal Service.
The colorful “Sun Science” collection, which went on sale on June 18, features 10 stamps that showcase different kinds of solar activity observed by the spacecraft since its deployment in 2010.
To kick off the summer, @USPS has issued a set of stamps highlighting solar activity seen by our Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite. 📬☀️ The stamps showcase the Sun in different kinds of light, including some that can only be seen from space. https://t.co/el7c19hlbX pic.twitter.com/xK4kxxFRmQ
— NASA Sun & Space (@NASASun) June 18, 2021
The images depict a range of solar phenomena that include solar flares, plasma blasts, and coronal loops. The space agency has a webpage explaining more about each one.
The SDO spacecraft uses two imaging instruments — the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly and the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager — that can view the sun in more than 10 distinct wavelengths of light.
“Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the stamps from images that have been colorized by NASA to correspond with the wavelengths that reveal specific features of the sun’s activity,” the USPS explained, adding that it’s using a foil treatment in the printing process to add a glimmer to the stamps.
Over the last decade, the SDO has beamed back to Earth hundreds of millions of images of our star, an astonishing figure that suggests it must have been something of a challenge to make the final 10 selections.
Commenting on the issue, NASA’s Dr. Nicky Fox said: “I look at each of these pictures from the Solar Dynamics Observatory and am reminded of how they help us learn more about the sun and the way its constantly changing atmosphere can affect Earth and the planets,” adding that she was pleased the stunning science imagery is now being shared in this way.
Thomas Marshall of the USPS said he hoped the stamps will help generate “the same sense of wonder and curiosity about our star that inspired our ancestors and the scientists at NASA to want to better understand the sun, space, and the myriad of possibilities that exist in our solar system, in our universe, and beyond.”
Snail mail may have given way to electronic communications for most of us, but if you do decide to go the traditional route with a message to distant friends or family, then these striking sun stamps should make a splash on the front of any envelope.