You Can Now Get Your Own Copy of the Voyager 'Golden Record'

NASA/JPL
NASA/JPL

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.

True or False: Was This Object Left on the Moon?

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Discovered on International Space Station Toilet

Antibiotic resistance isn’t just a problem on Earth. It’s happening in space, too. LiveScience reports that NASA scientists have found drug-resistant bacteria in samples from one of the space toilets on the International Space Station.

As part of a study published in the journal BMC Microbiology, scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory looked at waste samples taken from the ISS in 2015. They isolated five strains of Enterobacter bugandensis bacteria, sequencing their genomes and analyzing their susceptibility to antibiotics. They compared these space strains to strains found on Earth, including some that have been linked to patients in hospital settings.

Normally, because of the lack of interplanetary sewers, astronaut waste is simply flushed into space, where it will incinerate on its way back through Earth’s atmosphere. But for the sake of NASA’s ongoing catalog of microbes found on the ISS, some lucky astronaut got to swab the station’s toilet for samples. They also swabbed the station’s Advanced Resistive Exercise Device, one of the exercise machines astronauts use on the ISS to keep up muscle mass during long periods living in microgravity.

A toilet on the ISS
The space toilet where astronauts collected microbial swabs
Jack Fischer, NASA

Based on their similarity to bacteria strains taken from patients on Earth, the analysis found that the strains isolated from the ISS swabs have a 79 percent probability that they could cause disease in humans. They contained genes associated with antibiotic resistance and toxic compounds.

"Given the multi-drug resistance results for these ISS E. bugandensis genomes and the increased chance of pathogenicity we have identified, these species potentially pose important health considerations for future missions,” the study's lead author, Dr. Nitin Singh, said in a statement. “However, it is important to understand that the strains found on the ISS were not virulent, which means they are not an active threat to human health, but something to be monitored." That means that while astronauts don't need to worry about these bacteria just yet, antibiotic resistance is an issue that NASA will need to prepare for in the future.

[h/t LiveScience]

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