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Mars Pathfinder Commemorative Stamp:

The United States Post Office Salutes Pathfinder

Mars Pathfinder on a U.S. Postage Stamp
The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp to salute the national achievement of landing Pathfinder on Mars on July 4, 1997.

The USPS, recalling that the interplanetary spacecraft from Earth had sent spectacular images of the Red Planet to Earth, said Pathfinder was conducting its final mission on the surface of the U.S. postage stamp.

After its Independence Day landing, Pathfinder returned 2.6 billion bits of data, including more than 16,500 images, as well as chemical analyses of rocks and extensive information on winds and other weather factors. Using the first of those images sent back by Pathfinder after its landing on the Martian surface, the postage stamp featured the Sojourner rover resting on the Pathfinder with a panoramic view of the Ares Vallis region of Mars in the background.

Hidden Images. The Postal Service issued the stamp on December 10, 1997, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at Pasadena, California. Information about the Pathfinder mission was printed on the reverse of the $3.00 souvenir stamp sheet.

Fifteen million of the single-stamp panes were printed with a Gravure press. The five colors used were magenta, yellow, cyan, black and metallic bronze. The Pathfinder stamp image area was 1.5 x 3.0 in. The overall size of the stamp was 1.5 x 3.0 in. The size of the full pane was 3.25 x 5.75 in.

The Mars Pathfinder stamp was the third U.S. stamp with hidden designs to prevent counterfeiting. The hidden text was "Mars Pathfinder, July 4, 1997" and the letters "USPS." They were not visible to the naked eye, but could be seen with a decoder lens available from the Postal Service's Philatelic Fulfillment Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Other stamps issued in 1997 with hidden images were the U.S. Air Force and Classic Movie Monsters stamps.

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