Golden Phonograph Records, a Brief History

Originally Carl Sagan and his team which included, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke proposed a plaque like the ones that adorned Pioneer 10 and 11. But in January 1977 at the American Astronomical Society meeting, Frank Drake proposed sending a long playing phonograph record. Because sound informatino in such a record is physically etched in the record grooves, the information could last for a very long time which avoided the degradation of magnetic tape recordings. In addition, pictures could be encoded in the audio spectrum on such a record, therefore sending numerous more pictures than could be displayed on a plaque.Coincidentally 1977 was the 100th anniversary of the invention of the phonograph record by Thomas Edison (although the original disc was a tinfoil disc.)

Both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have a golden phonograph record in a silvery aluminum cover affixed to the outside of its central instruments bay.
Instructions for playing the record, written in scientific language, are etched on the cover. A cartridge and stylus, illustrated on the cover are tucked into the spacecraft nearby. The record (s) are therefore ready to be played.
These discs also contained music. Which for Carl Sagan meant more than just sending messages about how we perceive and think. Carl said, “But there is so much more to human beings than perceiving and thinking. We are feeling creatures and music was at least a credible attempt to convey human emotion. Perhaps there is even a ‘universal music.'”
Any real chance of Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 plummeting into a planet rich interior of another solar system that inhabits life could be 40,000 to 60, 000 years away…if ever.
And then, should there ever be such an encounter with a future time and future beings, what an astonishing find the Voyager Record would be!

“Perhaps they would wonder about us. They would recognize the tentativeness of our society, its tenuous acquaintance with technology and wisdom together. Had we destroyed ourselves or had we gone on to greater things? Some of the Voyager music intentionally expresses a kind of cosmic loneliness, which would perhaps communicate itself across the expanse of light-years and the differences in evolutionary histories We too, were time-capsuling, searching the skies, and seeking another civilization with which to communicate. But one thing would be clear about us: no one sends such a message on such a journey, to other worlds and beings, without a positive passion for the future. For all the possible vagaries of the message, they could be sure that were a species endowed with hope and perseverance, at least a little intelligence, substantial generosity and a palpable zest to make contact with the cosmos.”
― Carl Sagan, Murmurs of Earth

Engineers attaching the Golden Record to the Voyager spacecraft. Credit: NASA

How to Make a Golden Record

Original Article published by Science Friday here

Less than a year before NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft were scheduled for takeoff, astronomer Carl Sagan and SETI researcher Frank Drake received an intriguing proposal from the space agency: Would they be interested in crafting a message to alien civilizations to accompany Voyager on its interstellar journey? Over the next nine months, Sagan, Drake, and a small team of scientists and artists scrambled to compile a unique document—part time capsule, part interstellar greeting—to send to the stars. The Golden Record was born.

Over the next three weeks, Science Friday is celebrating the legacy of the Golden Record, in anticipation of Voyager’s 40th anniversary next year. And we’re asking you: What would you include on a Golden Record?

This week, we explore the Golden Record’s history with two of its creators. Ann Druyan was the creative director for the record project (she would go on to co-write COSMOS: A Personal Voyage with her husband Carl Sagan). And Drake, author of the Drake equation, helmed the record’s picture sequence. Together, they join Ira to remember those frenzied months when they compiled the Golden Record—a “best of” collection of science, art, and ingenuity.

The Golden Record, front and back. Credit: NASA

Listen to the whole Science Friday Episode

‘Golden Record Remastered’ Will Reboot Voyager’s Soundtrack of Earth

Original Article published by here

NEW YORK — In 1977, NASA sent two Voyager spacecraft off in different directions, each carrying a golden record with the sounds, greetings and music of the people of Earth. Now, those records are more than 10 billion and 12 billion miles (16 billion and 20 billion kilometers) away from Earth, respectively — and the radio program “Science Friday” says it’s about time for an update.

The public radio show, which airs a weekly episode focusing on science, partnered with the radio show “Studio 360” yesterday (Sept. 27) to reimagine what audio mementos of Earth such a record could hold if sent today. The event — held here at The Greene Space radio broadcast studio in collaboration with The Greene Space, Groupmuse and WQXR — kicked off a campaign to collect suggestions from the public and to build a “remastered” version of the artifact.

The original Golden Record was curated by astronomer and science popularizer Carl Sagan, and copies were sent on NASA’s Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft. On their way to interstellar space, the duo toured the outer solar system, visiting Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune between them — along with 49 moons around those planets and their rings and magnetic fields — before continuing toward the solar system’s outermost edges. [See Photos from NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 Spacecraft]

The 12-inch (30 centimeters), gold-plated copper discs include sounds from nature, greetings in 55 languages and 27 selections of music spanning the globe and human history — plus some quirkier entries, like an hour-long recording of brainwaves from Carl Sagan’s wife (writer and producer Ann Druyan) and the sound of a kiss. The spacecraft also carried diagrams of humans and DNA, maps of the solar system’s location, and views from Earth encoded on the record.

The focal point of the event, which was streamed live online, was a discussion of what to include on a new version of the record. Speakers included “Science Friday” host Ira Flatow, Studio 360’s Kurt Andersen, WQXR host Terrance McKnight and Brain Pickings blogger Maria Popova. The event also featured live performances of classical pieces from the original record, played by the Ulysses Quartet, as well as a look at music’s potential future, with avant-garde performances by the ensemble Tenth Intervention that depicted a long journey into space. There were also audio interludes in which members of the public shared their suggestions for an updated golden record.

The panelists discussed the challenges of representing Earth’s population fairly and describing the scope of the human experience on just one “playlist,” and each pitched his or her top suggestions for a remastered record to act as a time capsule for humanity. However, they didn’t limit themselves to audio — a blockbuster alien film, beloved children’s book and physical DNA all made the cut.

“Science Friday” is collecting submissions for a new Golden Record on the show’s website. The winning ideas will be chosen by a panel including Popova, SETI Institute astronomer Seth Shostak and science-fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson. They will reveal the final selections Oct. 7.

Original article by Sarah Lewin, Staff Writer for |


Email Sarah Lewin at or follow her @SarahExplains. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on

Violinist Hajnal Pivnick, co-founder of the musician collective Tenth Intervention, played a new piece at a “Golden Record Remastered” event at The Greene Space in New York City Sept. 27, 2016. The event focused on ways to update the famous Golden Record sent to space on the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft in 1977.

Credit: The Greene Space

“Science Friday” and “Studio 360” presented “The Golden Record Remastered” Sept. 27, 2016 at The Greene Space at WNYC, calling on a “stellar panel of culture experts” to describe what would be on a modern version of the famous Golden Record sent into space in 1977.

Credit: Science Friday