What Is on Voyager’s Golden Record?

From a whale song to a kiss, the time capsule sent into space in 1977 had some interesting contents

Megan Gambino

Megan Gambino

Senior Editor

Voyager record

“I thought it was a brilliant idea from the beginning,” says Timothy Ferris. Produce a phonograph record containing the sounds and images of humankind and fling it out into the solar system.

By the 1970s, astronomers Carl Sagan and Frank Drake already had some experience with sending messages out into space. They had created two gold-anodized aluminum plaques that were affixed to the Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 spacecraft. Linda Salzman Sagan, an artist and Carl’s wife, etched an illustration onto them of a nude man and woman with an indication of the time and location of our civilization.

The “Golden Record” would be an upgrade to Pioneer’s plaques. Mounted on Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, twin probes launched in 1977, the two copies of the record would serve as time capsules and transmit much more information about life on Earth should extraterrestrials find it.

NASA approved the idea. So then it became a question of what should be on the record. What are humanity’s greatest hits? Curating the record’s contents was a gargantuan task, and one that fell to a team including the Sagans, Drake, author Ann Druyan, artist Jon Lomberg and Ferris, an esteemed science writer who was a friend of Sagan’s and a contributing editor to Rolling Stone .

The exercise, says Ferris, involved a considerable number of presuppositions about what aliens want to know about us and how they might interpret our selections. “I found myself increasingly playing the role of extraterrestrial,” recounts Lomberg in Murmurs of Earth , a 1978 book on the making of the record. When considering photographs to include, the panel was careful to try to eliminate those that could be misconstrued. Though war is a reality of human existence, images of it might send an aggressive message when the record was intended as a friendly gesture. The team veered from politics and religion in its efforts to be as inclusive as possible given a limited amount of space.

Over the course of ten months, a solid outline emerged. The Golden Record consists of 115 analog-encoded photographs, greetings in 55 languages, a 12-minute montage of sounds on Earth and 90 minutes of music. As producer of the record, Ferris was involved in each of its sections in some way. But his largest role was in selecting the musical tracks. “There are a thousand worthy pieces of music in the world for every one that is on the record,” says Ferris. I imagine the same could be said for the photographs and snippets of sounds.

The following is a selection of items on the record:

Silhouette of a Male and a Pregnant Female

The team felt it was important to convey information about human anatomy and culled diagrams from the 1978 edition of The World Book Encyclopedia. To explain reproduction, NASA approved a drawing of the human sex organs and images chronicling conception to birth. Photographer Wayne F. Miller’s famous photograph of his son’s birth, featured in Edward Steichen’s 1955 “Family of Man” exhibition, was used to depict childbirth. But as Lomberg notes in Murmurs of Earth , NASA vetoed a nude photograph of “a man and a pregnant woman quite unerotically holding hands.” The Golden Record experts and NASA struck a compromise that was less compromising— silhouettes of the two figures and the fetus positioned within the woman’s womb.

DNA Structure

At the risk of providing extraterrestrials, whose genetic material might well also be stored in DNA, with information they already knew, the experts mapped out DNA’s complex structure in a series of illustrations.

Demonstration of Eating, Licking and Drinking

When producers had trouble locating a specific image in picture libraries maintained by the National Geographic Society, the United Nations, NASA and Sports Illustrated , they composed their own. To show a mouth’s functions, for instance, they staged an odd but informative photograph of a woman licking an ice-cream cone, a man taking a bite out of a sandwich and a man drinking water cascading from a jug.

Olympic Sprinters

Images were selected for the record based not on aesthetics but on the amount of information they conveyed and the clarity with which they did so. It might seem strange, given the constraints on space, that a photograph of Olympic sprinters racing on a track made the cut. But the photograph shows various races of humans, the musculature of the human leg and a form of both competition and entertainment.

Photographs of huts, houses and cityscapes give an overview of the types of buildings seen on Earth. The Taj Mahal was chosen as an example of the more impressive architecture. The majestic mausoleum prevailed over cathedrals, Mayan pyramids and other structures in part because Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan built it in honor of his late wife, Mumtaz Mahal, and not a god.

Golden Gate Bridge

Three-quarters of the record was devoted to music, so visual art was less of a priority. A couple of photographs by the legendary landscape photographer Ansel Adams were selected, however, for the details captured within their frames. One, of the Golden Gate Bridge from nearby Baker Beach, was thought to clearly show how a suspension bridge connected two pieces of land separated by water. The hum of an automobile was included in the record’s sound montage, but the producers were not able to overlay the sounds and images.

A Page from a Book

An excerpt from a book would give extraterrestrials a glimpse of our written language, but deciding on a book and then a single page within that book was a massive task. For inspiration, Lomberg perused rare books, including a first-folio Shakespeare, an elaborate edition of Chaucer from the Renaissance and a centuries-old copy of Euclid’s  Elements  (on geometry), at the Cornell University Library. Ultimately, he took MIT astrophysicist Philip Morrison’s suggestion: a  page  from Sir Isaac Newton’s  System of the World , where the means of launching an object into orbit is described for the very first time.

Greeting from Nick Sagan

To keep with the spirit of the project, says Ferris, the wordings of the 55 greetings were left up to the speakers of the languages. In  Burmese , the message was a simple, “Are you well?” In  Indonesian , it was, “Good night ladies and gentlemen. Goodbye and see you next time.” A woman speaking the Chinese dialect of  Amoy  uttered a welcoming, “Friends of space, how are you all? Have you eaten yet? Come visit us if you have time.” It is interesting to note that the final greeting, in  English , came from then-6-year-old Nick Sagan, son of Carl and Linda Salzman Sagan. He said, “Hello from the children of planet Earth.”

Whale Greeting

Biologist Roger Payne provided a whale song (“the most beautiful whale greeting,” he said, and “the one that should last forever”) captured with hydrophones off the coast of Bermuda in 1970. Thinking that perhaps the whale song might make more sense to aliens than to humans, Ferris wanted to include more than a slice and so mixed some of the song behind the greetings in different languages. “That strikes some people as hilarious, but from a bandwidth standpoint, it worked quite well,” says Ferris. “It doesn’t interfere with the greetings, and if you are interested in the whale song, you can extract it.”

Reportedly, the trickiest sound to record was a  kiss . Some were too quiet, others too loud, and at least one was too disingenuous for the team’s liking. Music producer Jimmy Iovine kissed his arm. In the end, the kiss that landed on the record was actually one that Ferris planted on Ann Druyan’s cheek.

Druyan had the idea to record a person’s brain waves, so that should extraterrestrials millions of years into the future have the technology, they could decode the individual’s thoughts. She was the guinea pig. In an hour-long session hooked to an EEG at New York University Medical Center, Druyan meditated on a series of prepared thoughts. In  Murmurs of Earth , she admits that “a couple of irrepressible facts of my own life” slipped in. She and Carl Sagan had gotten engaged just days before, so a love story may very well be documented in her neurological signs. Compressed into a minute-long segment, the  brain waves  sound, writes Druyan, like a “string of exploding firecrackers.”

Georgian Chorus—“Tchakrulo”

The team discovered a beautiful recording of “Tchakrulo” by Radio Moscow and wanted to include it, particularly since Georgians are often credited with introducing polyphony, or music with two or more independent melodies, to the Western world. But before the team members signed off on the tune, they had the lyrics translated. “It was an old song, and for all we knew could have celebrated bear-baiting,” wrote Ferris in  Murmurs of Earth . Sandro Baratheli, a Georgian speaker from Queens, came to the rescue. The word “tchakrulo” can mean either “bound up” or “hard” and “tough,” and the song’s narrative is about a peasant protest against a landowner.

Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode”

According to Ferris, Carl Sagan had to warm up to the idea of including Chuck Berry’s 1958 hit “Johnny B. Goode” on the record, but once he did, he defended it against others’ objections. Folklorist Alan Lomax was against it, arguing that rock music was adolescent. “And Carl’s brilliant response was, ‘There are a lot of adolescents on the planet,’” recalls Ferris.

On April 22, 1978,  Saturday Night Live  spoofed the Golden Record in a  skit  called “Next Week in Review.” Host Steve Martin played a psychic named Cocuwa, who predicted that  Time  magazine would reveal, on the following week’s cover, a four-word message from aliens. He held up a mock cover, which read, “Send More Chuck Berry.”

More than four decades later, Ferris has no regrets about what the team did or did not include on the record. “It means a lot to have had your hand in something that is going to last a billion years,” he says. “I recommend it to everybody. It is a healthy way of looking at the world.”

According to the writer, NASA approached him about producing another record but he declined. “I think we did a good job once, and it is better to let someone else take a shot,” he says.

So, what would you put on a record if one were being sent into space today?

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Megan Gambino

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Megan Gambino is a senior web editor for Smithsonian magazine.

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How the Voyager Golden Record Was Made

By Timothy Ferris

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We inhabit a small planet orbiting a medium-sized star about two-thirds of the way out from the center of the Milky Way galaxy—around where Track 2 on an LP record might begin. In cosmic terms, we are tiny: were the galaxy the size of a typical LP, the sun and all its planets would fit inside an atom’s width. Yet there is something in us so expansive that, four decades ago, we made a time capsule full of music and photographs from Earth and flung it out into the universe. Indeed, we made two of them.

The time capsules, really a pair of phonograph records, were launched aboard the twin Voyager space probes in August and September of 1977. The craft spent thirteen years reconnoitering the sun’s outer planets, beaming back valuable data and images of incomparable beauty . In 2012, Voyager 1 became the first human-made object to leave the solar system, sailing through the doldrums where the stream of charged particles from our sun stalls against those of interstellar space. Today, the probes are so distant that their radio signals, travelling at the speed of light, take more than fifteen hours to reach Earth. They arrive with a strength of under a millionth of a billionth of a watt, so weak that the three dish antennas of the Deep Space Network’s interplanetary tracking system (in California, Spain, and Australia) had to be enlarged to stay in touch with them.

If you perched on Voyager 1 now—which would be possible, if uncomfortable; the spidery craft is about the size and mass of a subcompact car—you’d have no sense of motion. The brightest star in sight would be our sun, a glowing point of light below Orion’s foot, with Earth a dim blue dot lost in its glare. Remain patiently onboard for millions of years, and you’d notice that the positions of a few relatively nearby stars were slowly changing, but that would be about it. You’d find, in short, that you were not so much flying to the stars as swimming among them.

The Voyagers’ scientific mission will end when their plutonium-238 thermoelectric power generators fail, around the year 2030. After that, the two craft will drift endlessly among the stars of our galaxy—unless someone or something encounters them someday. With this prospect in mind, each was fitted with a copy of what has come to be called the Golden Record. Etched in copper, plated with gold, and sealed in aluminum cases, the records are expected to remain intelligible for more than a billion years, making them the longest-lasting objects ever crafted by human hands. We don’t know enough about extraterrestrial life, if it even exists, to state with any confidence whether the records will ever be found. They were a gift, proffered without hope of return.

I became friends with Carl Sagan, the astronomer who oversaw the creation of the Golden Record, in 1972. He’d sometimes stop by my place in New York, a high-ceilinged West Side apartment perched up amid Norway maples like a tree house, and we’d listen to records. Lots of great music was being released in those days, and there was something fascinating about LP technology itself. A diamond danced along the undulations of a groove, vibrating an attached crystal, which generated a flow of electricity that was amplified and sent to the speakers. At no point in this process was it possible to say with assurance just how much information the record contained or how accurately a given stereo had translated it. The open-endedness of the medium seemed akin to the process of scientific exploration: there was always more to learn.

In the winter of 1976, Carl was visiting with me and my fiancée at the time, Ann Druyan, and asked whether we’d help him create a plaque or something of the sort for Voyager. We immediately agreed. Soon, he and one of his colleagues at Cornell, Frank Drake, had decided on a record. By the time NASA approved the idea, we had less than six months to put it together, so we had to move fast. Ann began gathering material for a sonic description of Earth’s history. Linda Salzman Sagan, Carl’s wife at the time, went to work recording samples of human voices speaking in many different languages. The space artist Jon Lomberg rounded up photographs, a method having been found to encode them into the record’s grooves. I produced the record, which meant overseeing the technical side of things. We all worked on selecting the music.

I sought to recruit John Lennon, of the Beatles, for the project, but tax considerations obliged him to leave the country. Lennon did help us, though, in two ways. First, he recommended that we use his engineer, Jimmy Iovine, who brought energy and expertise to the studio. (Jimmy later became famous as a rock and hip-hop producer and record-company executive.) Second, Lennon’s trick of etching little messages into the blank spaces between the takeout grooves at the ends of his records inspired me to do the same on Voyager. I wrote a dedication: “To the makers of music—all worlds, all times.”

To our surprise, those nine words created a problem at NASA . An agency compliance officer, charged with making sure each of the probes’ sixty-five thousand parts were up to spec, reported that while everything else checked out—the records’ size, weight, composition, and magnetic properties—there was nothing in the blueprints about an inscription. The records were rejected, and NASA prepared to substitute blank discs in their place. Only after Carl appealed to the NASA administrator, arguing that the inscription would be the sole example of human handwriting aboard, did we get a waiver permitting the records to fly.

In those days, we had to obtain physical copies of every recording we hoped to listen to or include. This wasn’t such a challenge for, say, mainstream American music, but we aimed to cast a wide net, incorporating selections from places as disparate as Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, China, Congo, Japan, the Navajo Nation, Peru, and the Solomon Islands. Ann found an LP containing the Indian raga “Jaat Kahan Ho” in a carton under a card table in the back of an appliance store. At one point, the folklorist Alan Lomax pulled a Russian recording, said to be the sole copy of “Chakrulo” in North America, from a stack of lacquer demos and sailed it across the room to me like a Frisbee. We’d comb through all this music individually, then meet and go over our nominees in long discussions stretching into the night. It was exhausting, involving, utterly delightful work.

“Bhairavi: Jaat Kahan Ho,” by Kesarbai Kerkar

In selecting Western classical music, we sacrificed a measure of diversity to include three compositions by J. S. Bach and two by Ludwig van Beethoven. To understand why we did this, imagine that the record were being studied by extraterrestrials who lacked what we would call hearing, or whose hearing operated in a different frequency range than ours, or who hadn’t any musical tradition at all. Even they could learn from the music by applying mathematics, which really does seem to be the universal language that music is sometimes said to be. They’d look for symmetries—repetitions, inversions, mirror images, and other self-similarities—within or between compositions. We sought to facilitate the process by proffering Bach, whose works are full of symmetry, and Beethoven, who championed Bach’s music and borrowed from it.

I’m often asked whether we quarrelled over the selections. We didn’t, really; it was all quite civil. With a world full of music to choose from, there was little reason to protest if one wonderful track was replaced by another wonderful track. I recall championing Blind Willie Johnson’s “Dark Was the Night,” which, if memory serves, everyone liked from the outset. Ann stumped for Chuck Berry’s “ Johnny B. Goode ,” a somewhat harder sell, in that Carl, at first listening, called it “awful.” But Carl soon came around on that one, going so far as to politely remind Lomax, who derided Berry’s music as “adolescent,” that Earth is home to many adolescents. Rumors to the contrary, we did not strive to include the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun,” only to be disappointed when we couldn’t clear the rights. It’s not the Beatles’ strongest work, and the witticism of the title, if charming in the short run, seemed unlikely to remain funny for a billion years.

“Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground,” by Blind Willie Johnson

Ann’s sequence of natural sounds was organized chronologically, as an audio history of our planet, and compressed logarithmically so that the human story wouldn’t be limited to a little beep at the end. We mixed it on a thirty-two-track analog tape recorder the size of a steamer trunk, a process so involved that Jimmy jokingly accused me of being “one of those guys who has to use every piece of equipment in the studio.” With computerized boards still in the offing, the sequence’s dozens of tracks had to be mixed manually. Four of us huddled over the board like battlefield surgeons, struggling to keep our arms from getting tangled as we rode the faders by hand and got it done on the fly.

The sequence begins with an audio realization of the “music of the spheres,” in which the constantly changing orbital velocities of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and Jupiter are translated into sound, using equations derived by the astronomer Johannes Kepler in the sixteenth century. We then hear the volcanoes, earthquakes, thunderstorms, and bubbling mud of the early Earth. Wind, rain, and surf announce the advent of oceans, followed by living creatures—crickets, frogs, birds, chimpanzees, wolves—and the footsteps, heartbeats, and laughter of early humans. Sounds of fire, speech, tools, and the calls of wild dogs mark important steps in our species’ advancement, and Morse code announces the dawn of modern communications. (The message being transmitted is Ad astra per aspera , “To the stars through hard work.”) A brief sequence on modes of transportation runs from ships to jet airplanes to the launch of a Saturn V rocket. The final sounds begin with a kiss, then a mother and child, then an EEG recording of (Ann’s) brainwaves, and, finally, a pulsar—a rapidly spinning neutron star giving off radio noise—in a tip of the hat to the pulsar map etched into the records’ protective cases.

“The Sounds of Earth”

Ann had obtained beautiful recordings of whale songs, made with trailing hydrophones by the biologist Roger Payne, which didn’t fit into our rather anthropocentric sounds sequence. We also had a collection of loquacious greetings from United Nations representatives, edited down and cross-faded to make them more listenable. Rather than pass up the whales, I mixed them in with the diplomats. I’ll leave it to the extraterrestrials to decide which species they prefer.

“United Nations Greetings/Whale Songs”

Those of us who were involved in making the Golden Record assumed that it would soon be commercially released, but that didn’t happen. Carl repeatedly tried to get labels interested in the project, only to run afoul of what he termed, in a letter to me dated September 6, 1990, “internecine warfare in the record industry.” As a result, nobody heard the thing properly for nearly four decades. (Much of what was heard, on Internet snippets and in a short-lived commercial CD release made in 1992 without my participation, came from a set of analog tape dubs that I’d distributed to our team as keepsakes.) Then, in 2016, a former student of mine, David Pescovitz, and one of his colleagues, Tim Daly, approached me about putting together a reissue. They secured funding on Kickstarter , raising more than a million dollars in less than a month, and by that December we were back in the studio, ready to press play on the master tape for the first time since 1977.

Pescovitz and Daly took the trouble to contact artists who were represented on the record and send them what amounted to letters of authenticity—something we never had time to accomplish with the original project. (We disbanded soon after I delivered the metal master to Los Angeles, making ours a proud example of a federal project that evaporated once its mission was accomplished.) They also identified and corrected errors and omissions in the information that was provided to us by recordists and record companies. Track 3, for instance, which was listed by Lomax as “Senegal Percussion,” turns out instead to have been recorded in Benin and titled “Cengunmé”; and Track 24, the Navajo night chant, now carries the performers’ names. Forty years after launch, the Golden Record is finally being made available here on Earth. Were Carl alive today—he died in 1996 at the age of sixty-two—I think he’d be delighted.

This essay was adapted from the liner notes for the new edition of the Voyager Golden Record, recently released as a vinyl boxed set by Ozma Records .

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Launched in 1977, the twin Voyager probes are NASA’s longest-operating mission and the only spacecraft ever to explore interstellar space.

NASA’s twin Voyager probes have become, in some ways, time capsules of their era: They each carry an eight-track tape player for recording data, they have about 3 million times less memory than modern cellphones, and they transmit data about 38,000 times slower than a 5G internet connection.

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“The heliophysics mission fleet provides invaluable insights into our Sun, from understanding the corona or the outermost part of the Sun’s atmosphere, to examining the Sun’s impacts throughout the solar system, including here on Earth, in our atmosphere, and on into interstellar space,” said Nicola Fox, director of the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Over the last 45 years, the Voyager missions have been integral in providing this knowledge and have helped change our understanding of the Sun and its influence in ways no other spacecraft can.”

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The Voyagers are also ambassadors, each carrying a golden record containing images of life on Earth, diagrams of basic scientific principles, and audio that includes sounds from nature, greetings in multiple languages, and music. The gold-coated records serve as a cosmic “message in a bottle” for anyone who might encounter the space probes. At the rate gold decays in space and is eroded by cosmic radiation, the records will last more than a billion years. 

Voyager 2 launched on Aug. 20, 1977, quickly followed by Voyager 1 on Sept. 5. Both probes traveled to Jupiter and Saturn, with Voyager 1 moving faster and reaching them first. Together, the probes unveiled much about the solar system’s two largest planets and their moons. Voyager 2 also became the first and only spacecraft to fly close to Uranus (in 1986) and Neptune (in 1989), offering humanity remarkable views of – and insights into – these distant worlds.

This infographic highlights the mission’s major milestones

While Voyager 2 was conducting these flybys, Voyager 1 headed toward the boundary of the heliosphere. Upon exiting it in 2012 , Voyager 1 discovered that the heliosphere blocks 70% of cosmic rays, or energetic particles created by exploding stars. Voyager 2, after completing its planetary explorations, continued to the heliosphere boundary, exiting in 2018 . The twin spacecraft’s combined data from this region has challenged previous theories about the exact shape of the heliosphere.

“Today, as both Voyagers explore interstellar space, they are providing humanity with observations of uncharted territory,” said Linda Spilker, Voyager’s deputy project scientist at JPL. “This is the first time we’ve been able to directly study how a star, our Sun, interacts with the particles and magnetic fields outside our heliosphere, helping scientists understand the local neighborhood between the stars, upending some of the theories about this region, and providing key information for future missions.”

Over the years, the Voyager team has grown accustomed to surmounting challenges that come with operating such mature spacecraft, sometimes calling upon retired colleagues for their expertise or digging through documents written decades ago.

Each Voyager is powered by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator containing plutonium, which gives off heat that is converted to electricity. As the plutonium decays, the heat output decreases and the Voyagers lose electricity. To compensate , the team turned off all nonessential systems and some once considered essential, including heaters that protect the still-operating instruments from the frigid temperatures of space. All five of the instruments that have had their heaters turned off since 2019 are still working, despite being well below the lowest temperatures they were ever tested at.

Recently, Voyager 1 began experiencing an issue that caused status information about one of its onboard systems to become garbled. Despite this, the system and spacecraft otherwise continue to operate normally, suggesting the problem is with the production of the status data, not the system itself. The probe is still sending back science observations while the engineering team tries to fix the problem or find a way to work around it.

“The Voyagers have continued to make amazing discoveries, inspiring a new generation of scientists and engineers,” said Suzanne Dodd, project manager for Voyager at JPL. “We don’t know how long the mission will continue, but we can be sure that the spacecraft will provide even more scientific surprises as they travel farther away from the Earth.”

A division of Caltech in Pasadena, JPL built and operates the Voyager spacecraft. The Voyager missions are a part of the NASA Heliophysics System Observatory, sponsored by the Heliophysics Division of the Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information about the Voyager spacecraft, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/voyager

Calla Cofield Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. 626-808-2469 [email protected]

Link to Smithsonian homepage

Voyager Golden Record: Through Struggle to the Stars

Voyager Record Cover

Voyager "Sounds Of Earth" Record Cover, 1977, National Air and Space Museum, Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

An intergalactic message in a bottle, the Voyager Golden Record was launched into space late in the summer of 1977. Conceived as a sort of advance promo disc advertising planet Earth and its inhabitants, it was affixed to Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, spacecraft designed to fly to the outer reaches of the solar system and beyond, providing data and documentation of Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. And just in case an alien lifeform stumbled upon either of the spacecraft, the Golden Record would provide them with information about Earth and its inhabitants, alongside media meant to encourage curiosity and contact.

Listen to the music recorded on the Voyager album with this Spotify playlist from user Ulysses' Classical.

Recorded at 16 ⅔ RPM to maximize play time, each gold-plaited, copper disc was engraved with the same program of 31 musical tracks—ranging from an excerpt of Mozart’s Magic Flute to a field recording made by Alan Lomax of Solomon Island panpipe players—spoken greetings in 55 languages, a sonic collage of recorded natural sounds and human-made sounds (“The Sounds of Earth”), 115 analogue-encoded images including a pulsar map to help in finding one’s way to Earth, a recording of the creative director’s brainwaves, and a Morse-code rendering of the Latin phrase per aspera ad astra (“through struggle to the stars”). In 2012, Voyager 1 became the first Earth craft to burst the heliospheric bubble and cross over into interstellar space. And in 2018, Voyager 2 crossed the same threshold.

A tiny speck of a spacecraft cast into the endless sea of outer space, each Voyager craft was designed to drift forever with no set point of arrival. Likewise, the Golden Record was designed to be playable for up to a billion years, despite the long odds that anyone or anything would ever discover and “listen” to it. Much like the Voyager spacecraft themselves, the journey itself was in large part the point—except that instead of capturing scientific data along the way, the Golden Record instead revealed a great deal about its makers and their historico-cultural context.

In The Vinyl Frontier: The Story of the Voyager Golden Record (2019), a book published by Bloomsbury’s Sigma science imprint, author Jonathan Scott captures both the monumental scope of the Voyager mission, relentless as space itself, and the very human dimensions of the Gold Record discs: “When we are all dust, when the Sun dies, these two golden analogue discs, with their handy accompanying stylus and instructions, will still be speeding off further into the cosmos. And alongside their music, photographs and data, the discs will still have etched into their fabric the sound of one woman’s brainwaves—a recording made on 3 June 1977, just weeks before launch. The sound of a human being in love with another human being.”

From sci-fi literature to outer-space superhero fantasies, from Afrofuturism to cosmic jazz to space rock, space-themed artistic expressions often focus on deeply human narratives such as love stories or stories of war. There seems to be something about traveling into outer space, or merely imagining doing so, that bring out many people’s otherwise-obscured humanity—which may help explain all the deadly serious discussions over the most fantastical elements of Star Trek and Star Wars , or Sun Ra and Lady Gaga. In the musical realm, space-based music frequently aims for the most extreme states of human emotion whether body-based or mind-expanding, euphoric or despairing. In other words, these cosmic art forms are pretty much expected to test boundaries and cross thresholds, or at least to make the attempt. The Voyager Golden Record was no exception.

The “executive producer” behind the Golden Record was the world-famous astrophysicist, humanist, and champion of science for the everyman, Carl Sagan (1934–1996). Equally a pragmatist and a populist, he was the perfect individual to oversee the Golden Record with its dual utilitarian and utopian aims. In his 1973 book The Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective , Sagan writes that humans have long “wondered whether they are in some sense connected with the awesome and immense cosmos in which the Earth is imbedded,” touching again on the meeting point between everyday mundane realities and “escapist” fantasies, a collision that animates a great deal of science fiction and cosmic-based music. In his personal notes from the time of The Cosmic Connection , Sagan makes reference to music as “a means of interstellar communication.” So how would he utilize music to create these moments of connection and convergence?

It’s little wonder that Sagan endorsed the inclusion of a record on spaceships, with music specially selected to call out to the outer reaches of space. Music was a “universal language” in his telling due to its “mathematical” form, decipherable to any species with a capacity for advanced memory retention and pattern recognition. But this universal quality didn’t stop it from expressing crucial aspects of what earthlings were and what makes us tick, or the many different types of individuals and cultures at work on the planet Earth. Moving beyond the strict utility of mathematics, he also believed that music could communicate the uniquely emotional dimensions of human existence. Whereas previous visual-based messages shot into space “might have encapsulated how we think, this would be the first to communicate something of how we feel” (Scott 2019).

Further refining this idea, Jon Lomberg, a Golden Record team member who illustrated a number of Carl Sagan’s books, argued for an emphasis on “ideal” types of music for the interstellar disc: “The [Golden] Record should be more than a random sampling of Earth’s Greatest Hits...We should choose those forms which are to some degree self-explanatory forms whose rules of structure are evident from even a single example of the form (like fugues and canons, rondos and rounds).”

Ethnomusicologists Alan Lomax and Robert E. Brown were brought in as collaborators, offering their expertise in the world’s music and knowledge of potential recordings to be used. The latter’s first musical recommendation to Sagan hewed to the stated ideal of music which establishes its own structural rules from the get-go—and by association, how these rules may be broken—all overlaid by the yearning of the singer’s voice and the longing expressed in the lyrics. As he described it in his program notes written for Sagan: ‘“Indian vocal music’ by Kesarbai Kerkar…three minutes and 25 seconds long…a solo voice with a seven-tone modal melody with auxiliary pitches [and] a cyclic meter of 14 beats, alongside drone, ‘ornamentation’ and drum accompaniment and some improvisation.” He also gives a partial translation to the words of the music: “Where are you going? Don’t go alone…”

Taken as a whole, the Voyager Golden Record is reminiscent of a mixtape made by an eccentric friend with an encyclopedic knowledge of the world’s music—leaping from track-to-track, across continents and historical periods, crossing heedlessly over the dividing lines drawn between art, folk, and popular musics, but with each track a work of self-contained precision and concision. The disc plays out as a precariously balanced suite of global musical miniatures, a mix where it’s perfectly plausible for Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” to end up sandwiched between a mariachi band and a field recording of Papua New Guinean music recorded by a medical doctor from Australia. Human diversity is the byword, diversity as a trait of humanity itself. The more the individual tracks stand in relief to one another the better.

Given all of this, one could make a plausible case that the Voyager Golden Record helped “invent” a new approach of world music, one where musical crosstalk isn’t subtle or peripheral, but where it’s more like the center pole of musical creation itself. While it’s hardly clear if Sagan or most of his other collaborators had this goal in mind, creative director Ann Druyan certainly did. Or at least she did when it came to her insistence on including Chuck Berry on the Golden Record. As she puts it in a 60 Minutes interview from 2018, “ Johnny B. Goode , rock and roll, was the music of motion, of moving, getting to someplace you've never been before, and the odds are against you, but you want to go. That was Voyager." And so rock ‘n’ roll is turned into true “world music.”

Whether by chance or by design, the Voyager Golden Record anticipated the shifting cultural and aesthetic contexts through which many listeners heard and understood “world music,” a shift that would become blatantly obvious in the decades to come. More than a culturally-sensitive replacement for labels like “exotic music” and “primitive music,” more than a grab bag of unclaimed non-Western musics and vernacular musics, the Golden Record anticipated a sensibility in which the “world” in world music was made more literal—both by fusion-minded musicians, and by music retailers who placed these fusions in newly-designated “world music” sections. (but one must acknowledge that these musical fusions were sometimes problematic in their own right, too often relying on power differentials between borrower and borrowed-from music and musicians)

In this respect, and in other respects beyond our scope here, "world music" embodied many of the contradictions inherent to the rise of globalization, postmodernism, hyperreality, neoliberalism, etc.—coinciding with the crossing of a threshold sometime in the 1970s or ‘80s according to most accounts—with the outcome being a world that’s ever more integrated (the global economy, the global media, global climate change) but also ever more polarized, each dynamic inextricably linked to its polar opposite—a sort of interstellar zone where the normal laws of physics no longer seem to apply.

By taking diversity and juxtaposition as aesthetic ideals rather than drawbacks, the creators of the Voyager Golden Record sketched a sonic portrait of the planet Earth and, at the same time, anticipating the art of the mixtape, yet another trend that would come to fruition in the 1980s. Not unlike a mixtape made for a new friend or a prospective love interest, the Golden Record was designed both to impress —an invitation for aliens to travel across the universe just to meet us—and to express who we are as a people and as a planet.

With the Golden Record as a mixtape-anticipating bid for cosmic connection, it’s fitting that its creative spark was lit in large part by the love affair that developed between Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan in the summer of 1977. To the self-professed surprise of both, they became engaged in the middle of an impulsive phone call and conversation, before they had even officially moved beyond friendship. They remained happily married until Carl Sagan passed away in 1996. On a National Public Radio segment broadcast in 2010, Ann Druyan described the moments leading up to that pivotal phone call and its lifelong aftermath—a relationship made official across space and over a wire—“It was this great eureka moment. It was like scientific discovery.” Several days later, Druyan’s brainwaves were recorded to be included on the Golden Record —her own idea—while she thought about their eternal love.

Given the sudden and unexpected manner in which they fell in love and into sync, it maybe didn’t seem too crazy to believe that infatuation could beset some lonely extraterrestrial who discovered their Golden Record too, especially if this unknown entity plugged into Druyan’s love waves. After all, the Voyager mission itself was planned around a cosmic convergence that only takes place once in the span of several lifetimes. Much like the star-crossed lovers, the stars had to literally align for the mission to be possible at all. The Voyager mission took advantage of a rare formation of the solar system’s most distant four planets that made the trip vastly faster and more feasible, using the gravitational pull of one planet as an “onboard propulsion system” to hurl itself toward the nest destination. With all the jigsaw puzzle pieces so perfectly aligned for the first part of the mission, it would be a shame if some mixtape-loving alien never came for a visit. The main question being if anyone will be here to meet them by the time they get here. As Jimmy Carter put it in his written message attached to the Golden Record:

This is a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours.

Dallas Taylor, host of independent podcast Twenty Thousand Hertz, explores the Voyager album track-by-track in episode 65: "Voyager Golden Record." Visit the podcast website to listen.

Written and compiled by Jason Lee Oakes, Editor, Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale (RILM)

This post was produced through a partnership between Smithsonian Year of Music and RILM .

voyager golden record 1977

Bibliography

DiGenti, Brian. “Voyager Interstellar Record: 60 Trillion Feet High and Rising.” Wax Poetics 55 (Summer 2013): 96.   In the summer of 1977, just after Kraftwerk dropped Trans-Europe Express , Giorgio Moroder offered the world the perfect marriage of German techno with American disco in Donna Summer's "I feel love," the first dance hit produced wholly by synthesizer and the precursor to the underground dance movement. Meanwhile, there was another gold record in the works. The Voyager Interstellar Message Project, a NASA initiative led by astronomer Carl Sagan and creative director Ann Druyan, was a chance at communicating with any intelligent life in outer space. In an unintended centennial celebration of the phonograph, the team created a gold-plated record that would be attached to the Voyager 1 and 2 probes—the Voyager Golden Record—a time capsule to express the wonders of planet Earth in sound and vision. As they were tasked with choosing images and music for this 16-2/3 RPM "cultural Noah's Ark"—a little Mozart, some Chuck Berry, Louis Armstrong, and Blind Willie Johnson—the pair of geniuses fell madly for each other, vowing to marry within their first moments together. Their final touch was to embed Ann's EEG patterns into the record as an example of human brain waves on this thing called love. (author)  

Meredith, William. “The Cavatina in Space.” The Beethoven Newsletter 1, no. 2 (Summer 1986): 29–30.   When the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration launched its spacecraft Voyager I and II in 1977, each carried a gold-plated copper record intended to serve as a communication to "possible extraterrestrial civilizations.” Each record contains photographs of earth, "the world's greatest music," an introductory audio essay, and greetings to extraterrestrials in 60 languages. Two of the record's eight examples of art music are by Beethoven (the first movement of the symphony no. 5 and the cavatina of the string quartet in B-flat major, op. 130). The symphony no. 5 was selected because of its "compelling" and passionate nature, new physiognomy, innovations, symmetry, and brevity. The cavatina was chosen because of its ambiguous nature, mixing sadness, hope, and serenity. (author)  

Sagan, Carl. Murmurs of Earth: The Voyager Interstellar Record . New York: Random House, 1978.   On 20 August and 5 September 1977, two extraordinary spacecraft called Voyager were launched to the stars (Voyager 1 and Voyager 2). After what promises to be a detailed and thoroughly dramatic exploration of the outer solar system from Jupiter to Uranus between 1979 and 1986, these space vehicles will slowly leave the solar systems—emissaries of the Earth to the realm of the stars. Affixed to each Voyager craft is a gold-coated copper phonograph record as a message to possible extra-terrestrial civilizations that might encounter the spacecraft in some distant space and time. Each record contains 118 photographs of our planet, ourselves, and our civilization; almost 90 minutes of the world's greatest music; an evolutionary audio essay on "The Sounds of Earth"; and greetings in almost 60 human languages (and one whale language), including salutations from the President Jimmy Carter and the Secretary General of the United Nations. This book is an account, written by those chiefly responsible for the contents of the Voyager Record, of why we did it, how we selected the repertoire, and precisely what the record contains.  

Scott, Jonathan. The Vinyl Frontier: The Story of the Voyager Golden Record . London: Bloomsbury Sigma, 2019.   In 1977, a team led by the great Carl Sagan was put together to create a record that would travel to the stars on the back of NASA's Voyager probe. They were responsible for creating a playlist of music, sounds and pictures that would represent not just humanity, but would also paint a picture of Earth for any future alien races that may come into contact with the probe. The Vinyl Frontier tells the whole story of how the record was created, from when NASA first proposed the idea to Carl to when they were finally able watch the Golden Record rocket off into space on Voyager. The final playlist contains music written and performed by well-known names such as Bach, Beethoven, Glenn Gould, Chuck Berry and Blind Willie Johnson, as well as music from China, India and more remote cultures such as a community in Small Malaita in the Solomon Islands. It also contained a message of peace from US president Jimmy Carter, a variety of scientific figures and dimensions, and instructions on how to use it for a variety of alien lifeforms. Each song, sound and picture that made the final cut onto the record has a story to tell. Through interviews with all of the key players involved with the record, this book pieces together the whole story of the Golden Record. It addresses the myth that the Beatles were left off of the record because of copyright reasons and will include new information about US president Jimmy Carter's role in the record, as well as many other fascinating insights that have never been reported before. It also tells the love story between Carl Sagan and the project's creative director Ann Druyan that flourishes as the record is being created. The Golden Record is more than just a time capsule. It is a unique combination of science and art, and a testament to the genius of its driving force, the great polymath Carl Sagan. (publisher)  

Smith, Brad. “Blind Willie Johnson’s ‘Dark was the Night, Cold was the Ground’.” The Bulletin of the Society for American Music 41, no. 2 (Spring 2015): [9].   Blind Willie Johnson's 1927 recording of “ Dark was the Night, Cold was the Ground ” was included on the copper record that accompanied Voyager I and II into space, placed just before the cavatina of Beethoven's string quartet op. 130. The author searches for the reasons the NASA team considered it among the world's greatest music, relating Johnson's interpretation to the hymn text of the same title written by Thomas Haweis and published in 1792, and analyzing Johnson's slide guitar technique and vocal melismas. Johnson's rhythmic style, with its irregularities, is discussed with reference to Primitive Baptist singing style. (journal)

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Blogs | Slice of History | October 29, 2015

Voyager golden record inscription - 1977.

By Julie Cooper

Most people know about the scenes, greetings, music and sounds from Earth found on the Voyager Golden Record . They may not know that there is also a handwritten message etched into the surface of the record. Timothy Ferris, who worked with Carl Sagan and the rest of the team that produced the record, wanted something done directly by a human hand to appear on the record. “To the makers of music – all worlds, all times” appears on the finished record, in between the photoengraved label and the record grooves.

The inscription can also be seen on some of the 14-inch recording masters that are found in the JPL Archives . There are several sets of the records, with a metal core and lacquer surface. From these masters, the copper records (“mothers”) were cut, then they were gold plated, etched, enclosed in aluminum containers and mounted on the sides of the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

This post was written for “Historical Photo of the Month,” a blog by Julie Cooper of JPL’s Library and Archives Group .

TAGS: VOYAGER , GOLDEN RECORD , MISSIONS , SPACECRAFT

voyager golden record 1977

Julie Cooper , Certified Archivist

Julie Cooper is a certified archivist who identifies and processes collections for the JPL Archives, and helps researchers find information about the history of JPL.

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The Voyager Golden Record Finally Finds An Earthly Audience

Alexi Horowitz, photographed for NPR, 2 August 2022, in New York, NY. Photo by Mamadi Doumbouya for NPR.

Alexi Horowitz-Ghazi

voyager golden record 1977

The Voyager Golden Record remained mostly unavailable and unheard, until a Kickstarter campaign finally brought the sounds to human ears. Ozma Records/LADdesign hide caption

The Voyager Golden Record remained mostly unavailable and unheard, until a Kickstarter campaign finally brought the sounds to human ears.

The Golden Record is basically a 90-minute interstellar mixtape — a message of goodwill from the people of Earth to any extraterrestrial passersby who might stumble upon one of the two Voyager spaceships at some point over the next couple billion years.

But since it was made 40 years ago, the sounds etched into those golden grooves have gone mostly unheard, by alien audiences or those closer to home.

"The Voyager records are the farthest flung objects that humans have ever created," says Timothy Ferris, a veteran science and music journalist and the producer of the Golden Record. "And they're likely to be the longest lasting, at least in the 20th century."

In the late 1970s, Ferris was recruited by his friend, astronomer Carl Sagan, to join a team of scientists, artists and engineers to help create two engraved golden records to accompany NASA's Voyager mission — which would eventually send a pair of human spacecraft beyond the outer rings of the solar system for the first time in history.

Carl Sagan And Ann Druyan's Ultimate Mix Tape

Carl Sagan And Ann Druyan's Ultimate Mix Tape

Ferris was tasked with the technical aspects of getting the various media onto the physical LP, and with helping to select the music. In addition to greetings in dozens of languages and messages from leading statesmen, the records also contained a sonic history of planet Earth and photographs encoded into the record's grooves. But mostly, it was music.

"We were gathering a representation of the music of the entire earth," Ferris says. "That's an incredible wealth of great stuff."

Ferris and his colleagues worked together to sift through Earth's enormous discography to decide which pieces of sound would best represent our planet. They really only had two criteria: "One was: Let's cast a wide net. Let's try to get music from all over the planet," he says. "And secondly: Let's make a good record."

That meant late nights of listening sessions while "almost physically drowning in records," Ferris says.

The final selection, which was engraved in copper and plated in gold, included opera, rock 'n' roll, blues, classical music and field recordings selected by ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax .

voyager golden record 1977

When Voyager 1 and its identical sister craft Voyager 2 launched in 1977, each carried a gold record titled T he Sounds Of Earth that contained a selection of recordings of life and culture on Earth. The cover contains instructions for any extraterrestrial being wishing to play the record. NASA/Getty Images hide caption

When Voyager 1 and its identical sister craft Voyager 2 launched in 1977, each carried a gold record titled T he Sounds Of Earth that contained a selection of recordings of life and culture on Earth. The cover contains instructions for any extraterrestrial being wishing to play the record.

Ferris says that from the very start, many people on the production team expected and hoped for the record to be commercially released soon after the launch of Voyager.

"Carl Sagan tried to interest labels in releasing Voyager," Ferris says. "It never worked."

Ferris says that's likely because the music rights were owned by several different record labels who were hesitant to share the bill. So — except for a limited CD-ROM release in the early 1990s — the record went largely unheard by the wider world.

David Pescovitz, an editor at technology news website Boing Boing and a research director at the nonprofit Institute for the Future, was seven years old when the Voyager spacecraft launched.

"When you're seven years old and you hear that a group of people created a phonograph record as a message for possible extraterrestrials and launched it on a grand tour of the solar system," says Pescovitz, "it sparks the imagination."

A couple years ago, Pescovitz and his friend Tim Daly, a record store manager at Amoeba Music in San Francisco, decided to collaborate on bringing the Golden Record to an earthbound audience.

Pescovitz approached his former graduate school professor — none other than Ferris, the Golden Record's original producer — about the project, and Ferris gave his blessing, with one important caveat.

Voyagers' Records Wait for Alien Ears

Voyagers' Records Wait for Alien Ears

"You can't release a record without remastering it," says Ferris. "And you can't remaster without locating the master."

That turned out to be a taller order than expected. The original records were mastered in a CBS studio, which was later acquired by Sony — and the master tapes had descended into Sony's vaults.

Pescovitz enlisted the company's help in searching for the master tapes; in the meantime, he and Daly got to work acquiring the rights for the music and photographs that comprised the original. They also reached out to surviving musicians whose work had been featured on the record to update incomplete track information.

Finally, Pescovitz and Daly got word that one of Sony's archivists had found the master tapes.

Pescovitz remembers the moment he, Daly and Ferris traveled to Sony's Battery Studios in New York City to hear the tapes for the first time.

"They hit play, and the sounds of the Solomon Islands pan pipes and Bach and Chuck Berry and the blues washed over us," Pescovitz says. "It was a very moving and sublime experience."

Daly says that, in remastering the album, the team decided not to clean up the analog artifacts that had made their way onto the original master tapes, in order to preserve the record's authenticity down to its imperfections.

"We wanted it to be a true representation of what went up," Daly says.

Pescovitz and Daly teamed up with Lawrence Azerrad, a graphic designer who has made record packaging for the likes of Sting and Wilco , to design a luxuriant box set, complete with a coffee table book of photographs and, of course, tinted vinyl.

"I mean, if you do a golden record box set, you have to do it on gold vinyl," Daly says.

They put the project on Kickstarter and expected to sell it mostly to vinyl collectors, space nerds and audiophiles — but they underestimated the appeal.

"The internet was just on fire, talking about this thing," Daly says.

They blew past their initial funding goal in two days, eventually raising more than $1.3 million dollars, making it the most successful musical Kickstarter campaign ever. Among the initial 11,000 contributors were family members of NASA's original Voyager mission team.

An Alien View Of Earth

An Alien View Of Earth

Last week, Ferris got his box set in the mail. He says that his friend, the late Carl Sagan, would be delighted by what they made.

"I think this record exceeds Carl's — not only his expectations, but probably his highest hopes for a release of the Voyager record," Ferris says. "I'm glad these folks were finally able to make it happen."

Pescovitz says he's just glad to have returned the Golden Record to the world that created it.

At a moment of political division and media oversaturation, Pescovitz and Daly say they hope that their Golden Record can offer a chance for people to slow down for a moment; to gather around the turntable and bask in the crackly sounds of what Sagan called the "pale blue dot" that we call home.

"As much as it was a gift from humanity to the cosmos, it was really a gift to humanity as well," Pescovitz says. "It's a reminder of what we can accomplish when we're at our best."

NASA Logo

Making of the Voyager Golden Record

A golden record album with The Sounds of Earth United States of America, Planet Earth and etched with "To the makers of music, all worlds, all time."

Many people were instrumental in the design, development and manufacturing of the golden record.

  • Blank records were provided by the Pyral S.A. of Creteil, France.
  • CBS Records contracted the JVC Cutting Center in Boulder, Colorado to cut the lacquer masters which were then sent to the James G. Lee Record Processing center in Gardena, California to cut and gold plate eight Voyager records.
  • Gold plating took place on August 23, 1977; afterward, the records were mounted in aluminum containers and delivered to JPL.
  • The record is constructed of gold-plated copper and is 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter. The record's cover is aluminum and electroplated upon it is an ultra-pure sample of the isotope uranium-238. Uranium-238 has a half-life of 4.468 billion years.
  • The records also had the inscription "To the makers of music – all worlds, all times" hand-etched on its surface.

The Making of the Voyager Golden Record

A round gold plate featuring diagrams that explain how to play a phonograph record and the location of Earth.

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Hear NASA’s ‘Golden Record’ From 1977 Voyager Mission

By Ryan Reed

In 1977, NASA launched the two Voyager spacecrafts with gold-plated records featuring sound collages showcasing the diverse culture, nature and industry of planet Earth – from Chuck Berry to Bach, industrial machinery to volcanic eruptions. The “Golden Record” project, led by author-astrophysicist Carl Sagan, was an optimistic attempt to communicate with extra-terrestrial life – or anyone else who may stumble upon the discs (and figure out how to play them). 

Nearly 40 years later, the records – hand-etched with the greeting, “To the makers of music – all worlds, all times” – are still drifting in their search for interstellar contact. But BBC Radio 3 has compiled some of these disparate sounds into an hour-long digital playlist, available to stream at their website . 

The mix begins with an introduction from 1977 UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim. “As the Secretary General of the United Nations, an organization of 147 member states who represent almost all of the human inhabitants of the planet Earth, I send greetings on behalf of the people of our planet,” he says. “We step out of our solar system into the universe seeking only peace and friendship – to teach if we are called upon, to be taught if we are fortunate. We know full well that our planet and all its inhabitants are but a small part of this immense universe that surrounds us, and it is with humility and hope that we take this step.”

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Also included are human greetings in 55 different languages, with a blend of music and field recordings spanning all corners of the Earth, including blues pioneer Blind Willie Johnson, composer Igor Stravinsky, Australian aboriginal songs and the hum of planes and trains. 

Along with the sprawling audio, Voyager housed 118 photographs and, according to a  NASA report , the “brain waves of a young women [sic] in love.” The “Golden Record” project team wanted to include the Beatles’ forward-looking anthem “Here Comes the Sun,” but were denied because the band didn’t own the song’s copyright. 

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voyager golden record 1977

The remarkable engineering triumph of the Voyager program

voyager golden record 1977

In 1977, two spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, were launched on their mission from Cape Canaveral to explore Jupiter and Saturn. Not only did they accomplish those missions, but they also continued on to observe Uranus and Neptune, eventually reaching interstellar space, where they continue to operate and send back valuable information to scientists today. On this edition of "Weekend Insight," TPR's Jerry Clayton talks about this remarkable feat of engineering with Voyager project scientist Linda Spilker.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Clayton: Give us a quick overview of the Voyager project that started going on 47 years ago now.

Spilker: The two Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977, and their original mission was to visit the four outer planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, which Voyager 2 did, visiting all four planets. And then after that, continue to study the heliosphere. That's the bubble created by our sun crossing the heliopause. Voyager 1 crossed in 2012. Voyager 2 crossed the heliopause in 2018.

Clayton: Now, Voyager 1 is now the farthest manmade object away from Earth. Is that correct?

Spilker: That's right. Jerry. Voyager 1 is now about 15 billion miles away from the sun, and it's traveling about a million miles per day. So, getting farther away every day and it won't be coming back. It's going to continue in that space between the stars.

Clayton: That distance is mind-boggling. And what's more mind-boggling is that you're able to communicate back and forth with the spacecraft. Now, I know there have been a few communications issues over the years, but back in November of 2023, tell me what happened with Voyager 1? Did you guys think it was over with?

Spilker: Well, Voyager 1 went from one day sending back good science and engineering data until the next day just sending back a single tone, essentially like a dial tone from a phone. And there was no longer any information. And so, we were really worried that we had no information coming from the spacecraft, except we knew it was still there. And so, then the task began to figure out what had happened to Voyager 1.

Clayton: And how did you fix that problem?

Spilker: We tried a series of steps and finally identified that a chip in the flight data subsystem memory had failed, and it was stuck at a bit. And so, it was no longer working the way that it should. So we figured out we needed to move all of the computer programing the subroutines to a good portion of the memory, and then link it all back together and get it to run. And that's exactly what we did.

Clayton: How simple are these systems on board the spacecraft computer-wise compared to technology today?

Spilker: Oh, the Voyager computers are much simpler than the technology we have today. In fact, the total memory of the Voyager computers is about equivalent to what you have on your key fob. So, your cell phone is much more capable than the Voyager computers.

Clayton: So what's next for Voyager 1 and Voyager 2?

Spilker: Well, both Voyagers are going to continue to explore interstellar space. We think that they'll last it, barring any other anomalies out until about the 2030s, at which point the power will be too low to maintain operation of the spacecraft. Each of them carries a golden record , with the sights and sounds of the Earth moving out toward stars in the future. And so they'll become our silent ambassadors, carrying our message of hope and goodwill to the rest of the universe.

Is there a topic or person you'd like to hear featured on this program? Email us at [email protected]

voyager golden record 1977

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Nasa voyager 1 back to science after glitch in interstellar space.

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An illustration shows a Voyager spacecraft in space. The twin Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes ... [+] launched in 1977.

Not bad for a 46-year-old spacecraft. NASA’s Voyager 1 is back in business after a serious glitch in November put a stop to its science work for months. The probe is humanity’s most distant emissary as it explores interstellar space—the space between stars. NASA’s ability to fix the elderly spacecraft over a great distance is a testament to perseverance and ingenuity.

Two of Voyager 1’s instruments are working again and sending back usable science data. “The mission’s science instrument teams are now determining steps to recalibrate the remaining two instruments, which will likely occur in the coming weeks,” said NASA in a statement on May 22. “The achievement marks significant progress toward restoring the spacecraft to normal operations.”

Voyager 1 is in uncharted territory with both its location and its age. The probe is over 15 billion miles away from home. It takes more than 22.5 hours for a message from Earth to reach the probe and another 22.5 hours to receive a response. That means troubleshooting works in slow motion. Voyager 1 and its twin Voyager 2 launched back in 1977, so the team is working with decades-old systems, technology and documentation. Voyager 1 became the first human-made object to leave the solar system in 2012 when it entered interstellar space. Voyager 2 took the same cosmic step in 2018.

Voyager 1’s plasma wave subsystem and magnetometer instrument are sending usable data. The team is still working on fixing the cosmic ray subsystem and low-energy charged particle instrument. This process could take weeks. “Kinda like when your power goes out and you have to go around your whole house resetting all your electronics,” the Voyager 1 team tweeted on X. “That's basically what my team and I are doing now.”

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Donald trump $300 million poorer after guilty verdict as truth social stock sinks, trump still faces 54 more felony charges after hush money verdict.

Returning Voyager 1 to science operations has been an incremental process. The probe began sending back garbled data in late November and it took time to track down the source of the glitch . “The team eventually determined the issue stemmed from a small portion of corrupted memory in the flight data subsystem, one of the spacecraft’s three computers,” said NASA. “Among other things, this system is designed to package data from the science instruments as well as engineering data about the health and status of the spacecraft before that information is sent to Earth.”

A gold record ready to be attached to a Voyager space probe, circa 1977. The record, The Sounds Of ... [+] Earth, contains a selection of recordings of life and culture on Earth. (Photo by NASA/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

With the source located, the team set about reworking Voyager 1’s code. By late April, the probe was once again making sense . Getting two instruments back to science work marks a major milestone in the recovery operation. Every day Voyager 1 continues to function is a small miracle. NASA’s heroic troubleshooting efforts will help scientists better understand interstellar space .

The spacecraft won’t last forever, but NASA hopes to keep at least one instrument working on both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 until around 2025. Even if the science instruments go into retirement, the probes could stay in touch with Earth for many years to come. And there’s always the hope Voyager’s Golden Record —a phonograph record full of messages from Earth—may one day be found by intelligent life from beyond our solar system. In the meantime, Voyager 1 is back to work for as long as it will last.

Amanda Kooser

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NASA, California Institute of Technology, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory Page Header Title

  • The Contents
  • The Making of
  • Where Are They Now
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Q & A with Ed Stone

golden record

Where are they now.

  • frequently asked questions
  • Q&A with Ed Stone

golden record  /  whats on the record

Images on the golden record.

The following is a listing of pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft. The contents of the record were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan of Cornell University, et. al. Dr. Sagan and his associates assembled 115 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind and thunder, birds, whales, and other animals. To this they added musical selections from different cultures and eras, and spoken greetings from Earth-people in fifty-five languages, and printed messages from President Carter and U.N. Secretary General Waldheim. Each record is encased in a protective aluminum jacket, together with a cartridge and a needle. Instructions, in symbolic language, explain the origin of the spacecraft and indicate how the record is to be played. The 115 images are encoded in analog form. The remainder of the record is in audio, designed to be played at 16-2/3 revolutions per minute. It contains the spoken greetings, beginning with Akkadian, which was spoken in Sumer about six thousand years ago, and ending with Wu, a modern Chinese dialect. Following the section on the sounds of Earth, there is an eclectic 90-minute selection of music, including both Eastern and Western classics and a variety of ethnic music. Once the Voyager spacecraft leave the solar system, they will find themselves in empty space. It will be forty thousand years before they make a close approach to any other planetary system.

A list of images included on The Golden Record, but are not viewable, is listed at the bottom of this page .

Calibration circle

The calibration circle image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Credit: Jon Lomberg Please note that these images are copyright protected. Reproduction without permission of the copyright holder is prohibited.

Solar location map

The solar location map image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Credit: Frank Drake Please note that these images are copyright protected. Reproduction without permission of the copyright holder is prohibited.

Mathematical definitions

The mathematical definitions image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Physical unit definitions

The physical unit definitions image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Solar system parameters

The solar system parameters image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Solar spectrum

The solar spectrum image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Credit: National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, Cornell University (NAIC) Please note that these images are copyright protected. Reproduction without permission of the copyright holder is prohibited.

The Mercury image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Credit: NASA Please note that these images are copyright protected. Reproduction without permission of the copyright holder is prohibited.

The Mars image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

The Jupiter image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

The Earth image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Egypt, Red Sea, Sinal Peninsula and the Nile

The Egypt, Red Sea, Sinal Peninsula and the Nile image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Chemical definitions

The chemical definitions image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

DNA structure

The DNA structure image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

DNA structure magnified, light hit

The DNA structure magnified, light hit image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Diagram of conception

The diagram of conception image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Fetus diagram

The fetus diagram image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Diagram of male and female

Nursing mother.

The nursing mother image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Credit UN/DPI Photo Please note that these images are copyright protected. Reproduction without permission of the copyright holder is prohibited.

Diagram of family ages

The diagram of family ages image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Diagram of continental drift

The diagram of continental drift image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Structure of Earth

The structure of Earth image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Heron Island (Great Barrier Reef of Australia)

The Heron Island (Great Barrier Reef of Australia) image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Credit: Dr. Jay M. Pasachoff Please note that these images are copyright protected. Reproduction without permission of the copyright holder is prohibited.

The Heron Island (Great Barrier Reef of Australia) image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft. Credit: Dr. Jay M. Pasachoff

Diagram of vertebrate evolution

The diagram of vertebrate evolution image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Sketch of bushmen

The sketch of bushmen image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Man from Guatemala

The man from Guatemala image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Credit: UN/DPI Photo Please note that these images are copyright protected. Reproduction without permission of the copyright holder is prohibited.

Sprinters (Valeri Borzov of the U.S.S.R. in lead)

The sprinters (Valeri Borzov of the U.S.S.R. in lead) image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Credit: History of the Olympics, Picturepoint, London Please note that these images are copyright protected. Reproduction without permission of the copyright holder is prohibited.

The schoolroom image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Children with globe

The children with globe image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Supermarket

The supermarket image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Credit: National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC) Please note that these images are copyright protected. Reproduction without permission of the copyright holder is prohibited.

Fishing boat with nets

The fishing boat with nets image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Demonstration of licking, eating and drinking

The demonstration of licking, eating and drinking image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

House construction (African)

The house construction (African) image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

House (Africa)

The house (Africa) image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Modern house (Cloudcroft, New Mexico)

The modern house (Cloudcroft, New Mexico) image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

UN Building Day

The UN building day image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

UN Building Night

The UN building night image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

X-ray of hand

The X-ray of hand image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Woman with microscope

The woman with microscope image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Street scene

The street scene image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Rush hour traffic (Thailand)

Modern highway.

The modern highway image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Airplane in flight

The airplane in flight image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Radio telescope (Arecibo)

The radio telescope (Arecibo) image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Page of book (Newton, System of the World)

The page of book (Newton, System of the World) image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Astronaut in space

The astronaut in space image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Titan Centaur launch

The Titan Centaur launch image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

Violin with music score (Cavatina)

The violin with music score (Cavatina) image is one of the pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.

  • Due to copyright restrictions, only a subset of the images on the Golden Record are displayed above.
  • All of these images are copyright protected. Reproduction without permission of the copyright holder is prohibited.

List of additional images, not featured in gallery, but exist on The Golden Record:

  • The Sun, Hale observatories
  • Cells and cell division, Turtox/Cambosco
  • Anatomy 1, World Book
  • Anatomy 2, World Book
  • Anatomy 3, World Book
  • Anatomy 4, World Book
  • Anatomy 5, World Book
  • Anatomy 6, World Book
  • Anatomy 7, World Book
  • Anatomy 8, World Book
  • Human sex organs, Sinauer Associates, Inc.
  • Conception , Albert Bonniers; Forlag, Stockholm
  • Fertilized ovum, Albert Bonniers; Forlag, Stockholm
  • Fetus, Dr. Frank Allan
  • Birth, Wayne Miller
  • Father and daughter (Malaysia), David Harvey
  • Group of children, Ruby Mera, UNICEF
  • Family portrait, Nina Leen, Time, Inc.
  • Seashore, Dick Smith
  • Snake River and Grand Tetons, Ansel Adams
  • Sand dunes, George Mobley
  • Monument Valley, Shostal Associates, Inc.
  • Forest scene with mushrooms, Bruce Dale
  • Leaf, Arthur Herrick
  • Fallen leaves, Jodi Cobb
  • Snowflake over Sequoia, Josef Muench, R. Sisson
  • Tree with daffodils, Gardens Winterthur, Winterthur Museum
  • Flying insect with flowers, Borne on the Wind, Stephen Dalton
  • Seashell (Xancidae), Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
  • Dolphins, Thomas Nebbia
  • School of fish, David Doubilet
  • Tree toad, Dave Wickstrom
  • Crocodile, Peter Beard
  • Eagle, Donona, Taplinger Publishing Co.
  • Waterhole, South African Tourist Corp.
  • Jane Goodall and chimps, Vanne Morris-Goodall
  • Bushmen hunters, R. Farbman, Time, Inc.
  • Dancer from Bali, donna Grosvenor
  • Andean girls, Joseph Scherschel
  • Thailand craftsman, Dean conger
  • Elephant, Peter Kunstadter
  • Old man with beard and glasses (Turkey), Jonathon Blair
  • Old man with dog and flowers, Bruce Baumann
  • Mountain climber, Gaston Rebuffat
  • Gymnast, Philip Leonian, Sports Illustrated
  • Cotton harvest, Howell Walker
  • Grape picker, David Moore
  • Underwater scene with diver and fish, Jerry Greenberg
  • Cooking fish, Cooking of Spain and Portugal, Time-Life Books
  • Chinese dinner party, Time-Life Books
  • Great Wall of China, H. Edward Kim
  • Construction scene (Amish country), William Albert Allard
  • House (New England), Robert Sisson
  • House interior with artist and fire, Jim Amos
  • Taj Mahal, David Carroll
  • English city (Oxford), C.S. Lewis, Images of His World, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
  • Boston, Ted Spiegel
  • Sydney Opera House, Mike Long
  • Artisan with drill, Frank Hewlett
  • Factory interior, Fred Ward
  • Museum, David Cupp
  • Golden Gate Bridge, Ansel Adams
  • Train, Gordon Gahan
  • Airport (Toronto), George Hunter
  • Antarctic Expedition, Great Adventures with the National Geographic National Geographic
  • Radio telescope (Westerbork, Netherlands), James Blair
  • Sunset with birds, David Harvey
  • String Quartet (Quartetto Italiano), Phillips Recordings

IMAGES

  1. Hear NASA's 'Golden Record' sent into space on Voyager in 1977

    voyager golden record 1977

  2. Voyager Golden Record

    voyager golden record 1977

  3. 40 Years Out, NASA's Twin Voyager Probes Inspire Golden Record Revivals

    voyager golden record 1977

  4. Voyager Golden Record (1977)

    voyager golden record 1977

  5. Voyager Golden Record (1977)

    voyager golden record 1977

  6. Greetings from Earth: Podcast revisits Voyager’s ‘Golden Record,’ 1977

    voyager golden record 1977

VIDEO

  1. Мы

  2. What audio is on the Voyager Golden Record?

  3. Voyager Golden Record.... #spacefacts #astronomy #subscribe

  4. Jerry Goldsmith * Star Trek: Voyager

  5. Why NASA sent these 116 IMAGES to ALIENS?

  6. The Voyager Golden Record #viral #trending #youtubeshorts #experiment #facts #shorts

COMMENTS

  1. Voyager Golden Record

    The Voyager Golden Records are two identical phonograph records which were included aboard the two Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977. The records contain sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth, and are intended for any intelligent extraterrestrial life form who may find them. The records are a time capsule. ...

  2. Voyager

    The Voyager message is carried by a phonograph record, a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth. Launched in 1977, both Voyager spacecraft began a historic journey and each carried a unique 'time capsule' along with them.

  3. Golden Record Overview

    Launched in 1977, both Voyager spacecraft carried a unique 'time capsule' along with them. Launched in 1977, both Voyager spacecraft carried a unique 'time capsule' along with them. ... The Golden Record Cover. The record's protective cover includes with instructions for playing its contents, finding Earth in the cosmos, and dating how long it ...

  4. What Is on Voyager's Golden Record?

    Mounted on Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, twin probes launched in 1977, the two copies of the record would serve as time capsules and transmit much more information about life on Earth should ...

  5. Voyager

    The remainder of the record is in audio, designed to be played at 16-2/3 revolutions per minute. It contains the spoken greetings, beginning with Akkadian, which was spoken in Sumer about six thousand years ago, and ending with Wu, a modern Chinese dialect.Following the section on the sounds of Earth, there is an eclectic 90-minute selection of music, including both Eastern and Western ...

  6. Voyager's Special Cargo

    This image highlights the special cargo onboard NASA's Voyager spacecraft: the Golden Record. Each of the two Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977 carry a 12-inch gold-plated phonograph record with images and sounds from Earth. An artist's rendering of the Voyager spacecraft is shown at bottom right, with a yellow circle denoting the ...

  7. Voyager at 30: Looking Beyond and Within

    A mission that was supposed to last just five years is celebrating its 30th anniversary this fall. Scientists continue to receive data from the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft as they approach interstellar space. The twin craft have become a fixture of pop culture, inspiring novels and playing a central role in television shows, music videos, songs ...

  8. The Making of the Voyager Golden Record

    2023 Technology Showcase for Planetary Science. James Webb Space Telescope. avatars. Voyager. James Webb Space Telescope - Engineering images. Earth Observer. Earth Observatory Image of the Day. Hubble Space Telescope. An album of images from the making of the Voyager Golden Record in 1977.

  9. Voyager

    Gold plating took place on August 23, 1977; afterward, the records were mounted in aluminum containers and delivered to JPL. The record is constructed of gold-plated copper and is 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter. The record's cover is aluminum and electroplated upon it is an ultra-pure sample of the isotope uranium-238.

  10. Contents of the Voyager Golden Record

    The Voyager Golden Record contains 116 images and a variety of sounds. The items for the record, which is carried on both the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft, were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan of Cornell University.Included are natural sounds (including some made by animals), musical selections from different cultures and eras, spoken greetings in 59 languages ...

  11. How the Voyager Golden Record Was Made

    Timothy Ferris, the producer of the Golden Record, which was launched aboard the twin Voyager probes, in 1977, describes how the project came to fruition.

  12. Voyager's Special Cargo: The Golden Record

    April 29, 2011. Context Image. This image highlights the special cargo onboard NASA's Voyager spacecraft: the Golden Record. Each of the two Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977 carry a 12-inch gold-plated phonograph record with images and sounds from Earth. An artist's rendering of the Voyager spacecraft is shown at bottom right, with a yellow ...

  13. Voyager, NASA's Longest-Lived Mission, Logs 45 Years in Space

    This archival video shows the launch of NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft on Aug. 20, 1977. It also features historic footage of the golden records that are attached to both Voyager 2 and its twin Voyager 1 and carry messages for anyone who might come upon one of the spacecraft. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech The Long Journey

  14. Voyager Golden Record: Through Struggle to the Stars

    An intergalactic message in a bottle, the Voyager Golden Record was launched into space late in the summer of 1977. Conceived as a sort of advance promo disc advertising planet Earth and its inhabitants, it was affixed to Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, spacecraft designed to fly to the outer reaches of the solar system and beyond, providing data and documentation of Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.

  15. Voyager Golden Record Inscription

    Voyager Golden Record Inscription - 1977. By Julie Cooper. Voyager Golden Record Inscription - Photograph Number 352-6780A | View full image. Most people know about the scenes, greetings, music and sounds from Earth found on the Voyager Golden Record. They may not know that there is also a handwritten message etched into the surface of the record.

  16. The Voyager Golden Record Finally Finds An Earthly Audience

    When Voyager 1 and its identical sister craft Voyager 2 launched in 1977, each carried a gold record titled The Sounds Of Earth that contained a selection of recordings of life and culture on ...

  17. Making of the Voyager Golden Record

    Gold plating took place on August 23, 1977; afterward, the records were mounted in aluminum containers and delivered to JPL. The record is constructed of gold-plated copper and is 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter. The record's cover is aluminum and electroplated upon it is an ultra-pure sample of the isotope uranium-238.

  18. The Voyager Golden Record: A reminder that we are all connected

    The Voyager Golden Record shot into space in 1977 with a message from humanity to the cosmos - and decades later, it stands as a reminder that we are all con...

  19. Voyager

    A golden phonograph record was attached to each of the Voyager spacecraft that were launched almost 25 years ago. One of the purposes was to send a message to extraterrestrials who might find the spacecraft as the spacecraft journeyed through interstellar space. In addition to pictures and music and sounds from earth, greetings in 55 languages ...

  20. Hear NASA's 'Golden Record' From 1977 Voyager Mission

    October 7, 2015. A gold record ready to be attached to a Voyager space probe in 1977. NASA/Hulton Archive/Getty. In 1977, NASA launched the two Voyager spacecrafts with gold-plated records ...

  21. The remarkable engineering triumph of the Voyager program

    In 1977, two spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, were launched on their mission from Cape Canaveral to explore Jupiter and Saturn. Search Query Show Search. News. Arts & Culture; ... Each of them carries a golden record, with the sights and sounds of the Earth moving out toward stars in the future. And so they'll become our silent ambassadors ...

  22. NASA Voyager 1 Back To Science After Glitch In Interstellar Space

    A gold record ready to be attached to a Voyager space probe, circa 1977. The record, ... And there's always the hope Voyager's Golden Record—a phonograph record full of messages from Earth ...

  23. Voyager

    The following music was included on the Voyager record. Bach, Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F. First Movement, Munich Bach Orchestra, Karl Richter, conductor. 4:40; Java, court gamelan, "Kinds of Flowers," recorded by Robert Brown. 4:43; Senegal, percussion, recorded by Charles Duvelle. 2:08

  24. Voyager 1 (and Half Its Instruments) Are Back Online

    (Voyager 1 launched in 1977.) NASA / JPL-Caltech. Without the ability to replace the chip, the team instead focused on a software-based workaround, moving affected code elsewhere. ... The Voyager spacecraft also both carry a copy of the Golden Record, a kind of time capsule with sounds and images from Earth for any would be alien salvagers that ...

  25. Voyager

    The following is a listing of sounds electronically placed onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft. Music of The Spheres; Volcanoes, Earthquake, Thunder; Mud Pots; Wind, Rain, Surf; Crickets, Frogs; Birds, Hyena, Elephant ... golden record Overview; The Cover; The Contents; The Making of; Galleries. Videos; Making of the Golden Record; Images on ...

  26. Voyager

    Images on the Golden Record. The following is a listing of pictures electronically placed on the phonograph records which are carried onboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft. The contents of the record were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan of Cornell University, et. al. Dr. Sagan and his associates assembled 115 images and ...