NASA Sent a Record into Space in 1977. Here's What Was on It

9/12/2016

“Hello from the children of planet Earth.” -Nick Sagan, the son of Carl Sagan, 1977.


What would you want aliens to know about our world and its inhabitants? In an attempt to leave a legacy of helpful information for extraterrestrials, NASA put together a record- a literal, gold-plated record album - to help create a multimedia snapshot of humanity. Then they hurled it into space.

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With curation help from the multi-faceted Carl Sagan, the Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey writer and producer Ann Druyan, and 1977 Rolling Stone contributing editor, Timothy Ferris, the time capsule includes encoded photos, friendly greetings in over 50 languages, and an hour and a half of music. It also contains a 60-minute brainwave recording of Druyan, chronicled while she thought on several topics - including what falling in love feels like. Carl Sagan's young son Nick spoke the message, “Hello from the children of planet Earth.” Deciding the contents of the record took almost a year.


Sent into deep space aboard the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, the Golden Voyager Records each came complete with a needle and a diagram detailing how to play it. The record was then encased in an aluminum jacket, and attached to the sides of the identical spacecraft.

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Etched into the gold-plated copper is also a 12-minute sampling of sounds from Earth, anatomy and DNA diagrams, and a digital page out of System of the World by Sir Isaac Newton.


The music chosen for the delight of extraterrestrial ears ranged from Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 to Chuck Berry's Johnny B. Goode, Navajo chants, percussion from Senegal, Bulgarian folk music, and many more selections that were painstakingly made into the ultimate mixtape. 


A few more select images that were sent into space to communicate details of our lives and planet:

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Any given night at the Old Country Buffet.

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Great, now aliens will know we ate supermarket grapes without paying for them. 

A photograph of Egypt, the Red Sea, Sinai Peninsula and the Nile from Earth orbit -  annotated with the chemical composition of Earth's atmosphere.

"The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced space-faring civilizations in interstellar space. But the launching of this 'bottle' into the cosmic 'ocean' says something very hopeful about life on this planet." - Carl Sagan


Five of the eleven instruments aboard Voyager 1 are still sending back data, but it's estimated that there will be insufficient power to relay information by the year 2025. 


You can read more about the Voyager Golden Record in the 1978 book Murmurs of Earth, a recollection of curating and creating the collection. Or just listen to it below.






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