Voyager Golden Record Gets Terrestrial Release


In 1977, earthlings launched a “message in the bottle” for extra-terrestrial life. Now a Kickstarter project is well on the way to issuing the Voyager Golden Record on vinyl.

The record – one copy of which is on each of the two Voyager craft – includes audio recordings of spoken greetings in 55 languages, natural sounds such as animal calls, and a variety of music including classical, blues and early rock such as Johnny B. Goode.

There’s also a set of 116 images from Earth encoded in audio format. A diagram on the record cover explains how to turn the audio signals into pictures by using the same 512 lines which made up standard television broadcasting at the time. For the images in color, there are separate sets of signals for red, green and blue with the intention that whichever aliens found the discs would overlay the images.

Voyager 1 has already become the first manmade object to reach interstellar space but, unless NASA has really taken its eye off the ball, no extra-terrestrials have got their hands (or other body parts) on the discs yet.

Controversially only a dozen copies of the record were made to keep on Earth, of which one went to then-US president Jimmy Carter and the rest went to NASA facilities. Carl Sagan, who co-ordinated the selection of the content, asked for a copy but was turned down.

Now a team led by Institute for the Future research director David Pescovitz wants to release the discs as records for the first time. They plan to produce a box set which, rather than one gold-plated copper disc (designed for playback at 16.66rpm,) will be made up of three golden colored vinyl discs.

The set will come in a gorgeous-looking box (complete with a book about the original project) though perhaps understandably it won’t replicate the original’s packaging of an aluminium tin plated with pure uranium, a move designed to help future civilizations determine the age of the record.

Each copy of the set will cost $98 and the Kickstarter project is already 80 percent of the way to its $198.000 goal with a month to go.