The Stamp from Outer Space

The US Postal Service features Raytheon's 'Blue Marble' image of Earth

Raytheon's Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite

Raytheon's Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) provides unique data for accurately monitoring global weather patterns and other predictive information critical to industries as diverse as agriculture and transportation, insurance and energy.

You know you're famous when you get your own postage stamp.

On May 31, at the World Stamp Show in New York, the United States Postal Service unveiled its new stamp series featuring iconic images of the planets. For Earth, the USPS used the 2012 Blue Marble, produced from Raytheon’s spacefaring sensor, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite aboard the Suomi NPP satellite.

"Seeing the results of our work on a stamp like this brings home the fact that our technology really is changing the way we see the world," said Roger Cole, director of Raytheon's VIIRS program.

Raytheon has deep expertise in the business of space, providing astronaut training support, space launch range management, satellite instruments, science data analysis, monitoring of space threats and dissemination of information to the military and intelligence communities. 

The USPS series is intended to "showcase some of the more visually compelling full-disk images of the planets." Blue Marble is one of the most instantly recognizable views of our planet, composed from a series of images taken by the VIIRS sensor. The images were stitched together by Norm Kuring, an oceanographer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

"The particular Earth image chosen by the US Postal Service for their recent stamp release would not have been possible without the band set, resolution and swath width that VIIRS provides," Kuring said. "We in the ocean-color community are using these data to extend our understanding of how the global ocean is changing as our climate warms."

Earth in Unprecedented Detail

Raytheon's VIIRS was launched aboard the NOAA/NASA Suomi NPP satellite in October, 2011, and has been breaking new ground in the observation of evolving storm patterns ever since. Providing data in 22 spectral bands, VIIRS improves forecasters' ability to predict severe weather with greater precision. The company has delivered a second VIIRS sensor for the Joint Polar Satellite System-1 spacecraft, to be launched in 2017, and is under contract to build three more units.

In addition to producing the stunning Blue Marble image used in the USPS stamp set, VIIRS data was used to create NASA's Black Marble view of Earth at Night. VIIRS' day-night band captures extremely low-light imagery, illuminating lights from individual ships at sea and distinguishing between clouds, ice and snow in the dark Arctic winter.

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Published On: 06/06/2016
Last Updated: 12/15/2017