The Message Voyager 1 Carries for Alien Civilizations

by Rachel Baker on September 16, 2013

In 1977, the Voyager Probes left Earth with a Golden record titled The Sounds of Earth. The Atlantic has an interesting story about what’s on that record.

The Voyager probes are technically unmanned; in another sense, however, they carry all of humanity with them as they speed through space. Each craft bears an object that is, in every way, a record — of Earth, of humanity, of humanity’s drive to reach and strive and dream and connect. The two epic mementos, given the sunny hue of their aluminum coverings, have been dubbed the Golden Records. They were the product of Carl Sagan and a team that, in January 1977, realized the far-traveling probes would stand a better chance than most human spacecraft would of encountering extraterrestrial life. So they decided to undertake a task that was both uniquely human and uniquely of its moment: They would make a record that would, if discovered by aliens, represent humanity. They would make a time capsule of human civilization. One that would, as NASA puts it, “communicate a story of our world to extraterrestrials.” An artifact that would be epic and Quixotic in equal measure.

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