What Voyager 1 Will Tell Aliens About Earth

Launched on September 5, 1977, Voyager 1’s mission was to study our Solar System. It’s been operating for over 36 years and as of this week, left the very Solar System it was meant to study. Now, in interstellar space, it is the farthest man-made object from Earth, 11.7 billion miles away.

The coolest part about Voyager 1, however, is not its mission but what it has on it: the Golden Record. This record contains sounds from earth, pictures of our culture, popular music from the 70s, spoken greetings from people in over 55 languages, and a message from Jimmy Carter. If aliens found it, they would be able to learn a lot about Earth.

The record contains instructions in symbolic language that explains what the satellite is, where it came from, its purpose, and how to play the record.

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Carl Sagan, who helped curate the disc, said “the record is best seen as a time capsule or a symbolic statement more than a serious attempt to communicate with extraterrestrial life.”

Here are some of the sounds found on the disc:

Honestly, this starts off poorly. Everything is frightening. That music? Volcano noises? Why not start with sounds of kids laughing or people cheering or any other noise except for creepy instruments and destruction? (Listen to all the sounds here).

Jimmy Carter’s message is “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.” Boy, if that isn’t uplifting I don’t know what is! (Listen to all the messages here).

Aliens will also get select songs from Beethoven, Bach, and Chuck Berry. However, they’ll never understand the importance of Marty McFly when it comes to Chuck Berry. (See all the musical selections here).

Finally, the photos included are interesting. They are mostly scientific measurements and details about humans and our lives, but some stick out. Like this guy from Guatemala.
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Or this supermarket:
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Or this kids with a globe:
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“We can’t go to Earth! It’s surrounded by huge tiny humans!”

Quite a few of the pics are on Voyager 1’s website. Check the others out (hint: there’s a nursing woman pic for some reason).

Reading about Voyager 1 gives me some hope. Humans can do some amazing things when we put humans before nations and power. Voyager 1 has enough power to last until 2025. Then, it’ll be dead, just floating in an ocean of nothing, waiting to be found be someone, or something.

– Mark (follow on Twitter)