When the two Voyager space probes — Voyager I and Voyager II — were launched in the late 1970s, each of them carried a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing sounds and images depicting the diversity of life and culture on Earth. The contents of the record, selected for NASA by a committee chaired by the famed cosmologist and science popularizer Carl Sagan, included several images and a variety of natural sounds that might just give a sentient alien an inkling of what life on Earth was once like.
In addition to compositions by musicians like Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, the copper disks carried “greetings to the universe” in 55 different languages — available on the NASA website — several ambient earthly and human-generated sounds — the “murmurs of Earth” — such as barking dogs, rain and wind, and even a crying baby, and over 100 images, showing, among other things, humans engaged in several day-to-day activities.
“The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced spacefaring civilizations in interstellar space. But the launching of this bottle into the cosmic ocean says something very hopeful about life on this planet,” Sagan once said.
Although NASA has released the sounds carried by these “golden records” — minus the music — for free streaming on SoundCloud, the record has never been made public in anything close to its original form.
A Kickstarter crowdfunding project, led by David Pescovitz — the co-editor of the tech and science news website Boing Boing — wants to rectify this. Pescovitz and his team want to raise $198,000 by Oct. 20, which they would then use to create and issue boxed sets containing three LPs pressed out of vinyl in time for the 40th anniversary of the Voyager launches.
Each boxed set, which will be accompanied with a hardbound book containing images from the original message, photos of planets captured by the Voyager probes and historical details of the mission, will cost $98.
So far, with 28 days left, the campaign has already raised over $137,000.
“The original Golden Record was a gift from humanity, an introduction to our civilization for any extraterrestrials who might encounter the spacecraft, perhaps billions of years in the future. But it was also a gift to humanity. And if we meet our goal, you’ll be able to experience it the way it was meant to be played,” Pescovitz wrote at Boing Boing. “Our hope is that this release of The Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition will provoke questions about our place in the universe, open our minds to possibility, and serve as a reminder that the future is really up to all of us.”
However, unlike the originals, the reissues will be made of vinyl. Also, they will be recorded at a normal LP speed, as opposed to the originals, which were intended to be played at half the normal speed for LP records.