You Can Now Get Your Own Copy of the Voyager 'Golden Record'
For more than 40 years, the spacecrafts Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have taken the music, words, images, and sounds of Earth deeper into space thanks to the Golden Record, a copy of which was sent into space with each probe. This mix tape—a 12-inch, gold-plated copper disk—from us to the universe was famously put together by a team lead by Carl Sagan that was tasked with creating a snapshot of our world that aliens could understand—as long as they brought their own record player, as the probes, launched in 1977, lacked them.
Last year, a Kickstarter campaign offered a remastered, 40th-anniversary edition vinyl box set to project backers. The campaign aimed for $198,000; it raised $1,363,037. Now, anyone with $50 will be able to get a copy of Earth's interstellar playlist. You can now order the set from OZMA Records (via Light in the Attic Records). This is big: Even Sagan himself was turned down when he asked NASA for a copy.
The set includes a full-color hardcover book with two CDs of all the audio content and all the images that were encoded in analog on the record, scanned from a set of original slides. Science journalist Timothy Ferris, the original producer of the Voyager Interstellar Record, as it's officially called, penned an original essay for the book. Images beamed back to Earth from the Voyager probes are included too.
Among the tracks you'll hear are a Pygmy girls' initiation song from Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), the Queen of the Night aria, no. 14, from Mozart's The Magic Flute, and the gospel blues song "Dark Was the Night" by Blind Willie Johnson. Sounds include volcanoes, laughter, footsteps, Morse code, wind, crickets, a tame dog, and a kiss between a mother and a child. Some of the images from 1977 depict a tropical island, a foot race, skyscrapers and mud-brick homes, and a trio of people licking, eating, and drinking.
"I remember sitting around the kitchen table making these huge decisions about what to put on and what to leave off," Ann Druyan, the creative director of the Golden Record and Sagan's wife, told NASA's ScienceCast. "We couldn't help but appreciate the enormous responsibility to create a cultural Noah's Ark with a shelf life of hundreds of millions of years."
Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are now far from Earth: Voyager 2 on the periphery of our solar system in what's known as the heliosheath, and Voyager 1, far beyond it, 13 billion miles away—the most-distant object humans have ever sent into space. The probes still talk to us every day, sending back data. One day, perhaps, they'll talk to someone else Out There.