NASA, USPS Team Up To Celebrate National Stamp Collecting Month
October 3, 2012

NASA, USPS Team Up To Celebrate National Stamp Collecting Month

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Earth is beautiful when viewed from an eye-level perspective. There are a number of beautiful landmarks and natural phenomenon which are perfectly able to take one's breath away. When viewed from above, however, even the most mundane landmarks can become a thing of geometric beauty. It´s this beauty that the United States Postal Service aims to celebrate with their new Forever stamp series, called “Earthscapes.”

Using high altitude images– taken either from passing aircraft or high-flying satellites– these stamps depict scenes from three categories: Agricultural, Natural and Urban.

The USPS released these stamps yesterday, October 1, and will offer 15 different varieties, each with a different, beautifully colored image of our Earth from high above.

"Once you've seen the world from above, you never look at it quite the same way again," said USPS chief financial officer and executive vice president Joseph Corbett in a press statement.

"That's why the Postal Service is proud to offer these Earthscapes stamps, which invite us to take a bird's-eye view of the land we all share."

These stamps were unveiled at a special ceremony at NASA´s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

NASA and the US Geological Survey´s Landsat 7 Satellite provided three such images, entitled “Volcanic Crater,” “Center-Point Irrigation, ” and “Residential Subdivision.”

Mount St. Helens is photographed in “Volcanic Crater,” showing the area surrounding the great 1980 eruption, one of the worst US natural disasters in the past 50 years. As this area continues to recover, Landsat 7 passes by, cataloging the changes to the landscape. In “Volcanic Crater,” deep, dark channels or rivers are shown where hot, molten lava once spewed from the crater.

The most geometrically intense stamp, “Center-Point Irrigation,” defines a changing landscape in the American midwest. Rather than irrigate their fields in straight rectangles, farmers in Kansas have been taking a circular approach for over 30 years, setting up their water source in the center and spreading it around, thus the term “Center-Point.”

This stamp highlights the changes in the landscape from rectangle to circle, complete with dark greens and reds.

"Obvious, Landsat images make beautiful stamps," explained Doug Morton, a NASA remote sensing scientist with the Landsat team. "Every Landsat image, even if it's not so beautiful, is a rich science dataset, carefully calibrated to provide a wealth of information about the health and composition of our planet."

In “Residential Subdivision,” a stamp from the Urban category, Las Vegas´ burgeoning suburban sprawl is seen, all captured from Landsat data. Brown and orange houses are seen stemming from a twisting center street, with swimming pools and palm trees seen in many of the backyards.

Finally, in “Glacier and Icebergs,” Alaska´s Bear Glacier takes center stage as its shown breaking off into icebergs before setting adrift in a lake. Scientists have been studying glaciers and their slow melts for years in attempts to better understand climate changes and global warming. This image was taken by the GeoEye IKONOS satellite, a commercial satellite which collects data and images for national security and military mapping. It´s images can be used by other regional and local governments as well.

The USPS released these stamps to commemorate October as National Stamp Collecting Month, and these new, beautiful stamps will be available at or by calling 1-800-STAMP24