NASA's Mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt
A 1991 "Pluto Not Yet Explored" stamp was affixed to the New Horizons spacecraft shortly before launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida in 2006. On July 19 the stamp was recognized by Guinness World Records for the farthest distance traveled by a postage stamp, going more than 3.2 billion miles to Pluto and beyond. (Credit: NASA/JHUAPL)
It's a world record that's being broken every second.
On board the New Horizons spacecraft – which APL built and operates for NASA – is a 1991 "Pluto Not Yet Explored" stamp that has earned a Guinness World Record for the farthest distance traveled by a postage stamp.
"Our mission is to make the amazing official," said Jimmy Coggins, official adjudicator for Guinness World Records, during a presentation ceremony on July 19 at U.S. Postal Service Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The 29-cent "Pluto Not Yet Explored" stamp became a rallying cry for the New Horizons mission team, which affixed it on the spacecraft at Cape Canaveral, Florida, before launch on Jan. 19, 2006. The stamp hitched a ride of more than 3.2 billion miles to Pluto, flying past the dwarf planet (with the spacecraft, of course) on July 14, 2015.
The "little stamp that could" is continuing its record-setting journey, now 274 million miles (441 million kilometers) beyond Pluto, continuously breaking the world record it just set. NASA has approved an extended mission for a Jan. 1, 2019 flyby of a Kuiper Belt object one billion miles past Pluto. Known as 2014 MU69, it's considered one of the early building blocks of the solar system.
The stamp is actually one of nine items placed on the New Horizons spacecraft; read more about these keepsakes from home here.
Jimmy Coggins, official adjudicator, Guinness World Records, right, announces that the 1991 "Pluto: Not Yet Explored" stamp set a Guinness World Record for one stamp traveling the longest distance, with, from left to right, Janet Klug, chairman, Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee; Glen Fountain, New Horizons project manager, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory; Jim Green, director, Planetary Science, NASA; Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator, Southwest Research Institute; Megan Brennan, postmaster general and chief executive officer, U.S. Postal Service;S and Jim Cochrane, chief marketing and sales officer and executive vice president, U.S. Postal Service, who accepted the certificate on Tuesday, July 19, 2016 at the United States Postal Service Headquarters in Washington. (Credit: USPS)