Tuesday, December 07, 2021
  Voyager Golden Record  
About the Voyager Golden Record (VGR)

golden record 400
A copy of the record on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center
in Washington Dulles International Airport

From: Wikipedia ♦ The contents of the Voyager Golden Record is a collection of 116 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind, and thunder, and animal sounds, including the songs of birds and whales. To this they added musical selections from different cultures and eras, spoken greetings in fifty-nine languages, and printed messages from President Jimmy Carter and U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim. The items were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan of Cornell University.

After NASA had received criticism over the nudity on the Pioneer plaque (line drawings of a naked man and woman), the agency chose not to allow Sagan and his colleagues to include a photograph of a nude man and woman on the record. Instead, only a silhouette of the couple was included.

Below is President Carter's official statement placed on the Voyager spacecraft for its trip outside our solar system, June 16, 1977:

This Voyager spacecraft was constructed by the United States of America. We are a community of 240 million human beings among the more than 4 billion who inhabit the planet Earth. We human beings are still divided into nation states, but these states are rapidly becoming a single global civilization.

We cast this message into the cosmos. It is likely to survive a billion years unto our future, when our civilization is profoundly altered and the surface of the Earth may be vastly changed. Of the 200 billion stars in five Milky Way galaxy, some — perhaps many — may have inhabited planets and spacefaring civilizations. If one such civilization intercepts Voyager and can understand these recorded contents, here is our message:

This is a present from a small distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours. We hope someday, having solved the problems we face, to join a community of galactic civilizations. This record represents our hope and our determination, and our good will in a vast and awesome universe.
Jimmy Carter, President of the United States of America

The other official message carried by Voyager was from U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim's message:

As the Secretary General of the United Nations, an organization of 147 member states who represent almost all of the human inhabitants of the planet Earth, I send greetings on behalf of the people of our planet. We step out of our solar system into the universe seeking only peace and friendship, to teach if we are called upon, to be taught if we are fortunate. We know full well that our Planet and all its inhabitants are but a small part of the immense universe that surrounds us and it is with humility and hope that we take this step.
Voyager Golden Record: Greetings

  • The first audio section contains a spoken greeting in English from the Secretary General of the U.N., Kurt Waldheim.
  • The second audio section ("Greetings in 55 Languages") contains spoken greetings in 55 languages, including four Chinese dialects (marked with **), 12 South Asian languages (marked #) and five ancient languages (marked §), listed here in alphabetical order:
  • Below is a list of the recorded greetings as they appear on the tracks.






Voyager Golden Record: Sounds of Earth

The next audio section is devoted to the "sounds of Earth" that include:

sounds of the earth

Included within the Sounds of Earth audio portion of the Golden Record is a track containing the inspirational message per aspera ad astra in Morse Code. Translated from Latin, it means, through hardships to the stars.

Voyager Golden Record: Music

Following the section on the sounds of Earth, there is an eclectic 90-minute selection of music from many cultures, including Eastern and Western classics. The selections include:

  • Johann Sebastian Bach is the most represented artist, appearing three times.
  • Sagan had originally asked for permission to include "Here Comes the Sun" from the Beatles' album Abbey Road. While the Beatles favoured it, EMI opposed it and the song was not included.





Voyager Golden Record: Brainwaves

The Golden Records also carried an hour long recording of the brainwaves of Ann Druyan, who would later marry Carl Sagan. In the Epilogue of the book Billions and Billions, she describes the experience:

Earlier I had asked Carl if those putative extraterrestrials of a billion years from now could conceivably interpret the brain waves of a meditator. Who knows? A billion years is a long, long time, was his reply. On the chance that it might be possible why don't we give it a try? Two days after our life-changing phone call, I entered a laboratory at Bellevue Hospital in New York City and was hooked up to a computer that turned all the data from my brain and heart into sound. I had a one-hour mental itinerary of the information I wished to convey. I began by thinking about the history of Earth and the life it sustains. To the best of my abilities I tried to think something of the history of ideas and human social organization. I thought about the predicament that our civilization finds itself in and about the violence and poverty that make this planet a hell for so many of its inhabitants. Toward the end I permitted myself a personal statement of what it was like to fall in love.

On February 12, 2010, an interview with Ann Druyan was aired on National Public Radio (NPR) during which the above was explained in more detail.

Voyager Golden Record: Images

Along with the audio, the record contains a collection of 116 pictures (one of which is for calibration) detailing but not limited to human life on Earth and the planet itself. Many pictures are annotated with one or many indications of scales of time, size or mass. Some images also contain indications of chemical composition. All measures used on the pictures are first defined in the first few images using physical references.

Below is a list of all the images contained in the Voyager Golden Record together with the actual image, a description of the nature of the image and photo credits for the images.

PositionThumbnailDescriptionPhoto Credit
1 vgr 001 Calibration circle  Jon Lomberg
2 vgr 002 Solar location map  Dr. Frank Drake
3 vgr 003 Mathematical definitions  Dr. Frank Drake
4 vgr 004 Physical unit definitions  Dr. Frank Drake
5 vgr 005 Solar system parameters  Dr. Frank Drake
6 vgr 006 Solar system parameters  Dr. Frank Drake
7 vgr 007 The Sun Hale observatories
8 vgr 008 Solar spectrum  H. Ecklemann
9 vgr 009 Mercury  NASA
10 vgr 010 Mars  NASA
PositionThumbnailDescriptionPhoto Credit
11 vgr 011 Jupiter  NASA
12 vgr 012 Earth  NASA
13 vgr 013 Egypt, Red Sea, Sinai Peninsula and the Nile  NASA
14 vgr 014 Chemical definitions  Dr. Frank Drake
15 vgr 015 DNA Structure  Jon Lomberg
16 vgr 016 DNA Structure magnified, light hit  Jon Lomberg
17 Cells and cell division Turtox/Cambosco
18 Anatomy 1 (Skeleton front) Field Enterprises Educational Corp.
and Row, Peterson Co.
19 Anatomy 2 (Internal organs front) Field Enterprises Educational Corp.
and Row, Peterson Co.
20 Anatomy 3 (Skeleton and muscles back) Field Enterprises Educational Corp.
and Row, Peterson Co.
PositionThumbnailDescriptionPhoto Credit
21 Anatomy 4 (Internal organs back) Field Enterprises Educational Corp.
and Row, Peterson Co.
22 Anatomy 5 (Ribcage) Field Enterprises Educational Corp.
and Row, Peterson Co.
23 Anatomy 6 (Muscles front) Field Enterprises Educational Corp.
and Row, Peterson Co.
24 Anatomy 7 (Heart, lungs, kidneys and main blood vessels back) Field Enterprises Educational Corp.
and Row, Peterson Co.
25 Anatomy 8 (Heart, lungs, kidneys and main blood vessels front) Field Enterprises Educational Corp.
and Row, Peterson Co.
26 Human sex organs Sinauer Associates, Inc.
27 vgr 027 Diagram of conception  Jon Lomberg
28 Conception Albert Bonniers; Forlag, Stockholm
29 Fertilized ovum Albert Bonniers; Forlag, Stockholm
30 vgr 030 Fetus diagram  Jon Lomberg
PositionThumbnailDescriptionPhoto Credit
31 Fetus Dr. Frank Allan
32 vgr 032 Diagram of male and female  Jon Lomberg
33 Birth Wayne Miller
34 vgr 034 Nursing mother  UN
35 Father and daughter (Malaysia) David Harvey
36 Group of children Ruby Mera, UNICEF
37 vgr 037 Diagram of family ages  Jon Lomberg
38 Family portrait Nina Leen, Time, Inc.
39 vgr 039 Diagram of continental drift  Jon Lomberg
40 vgr 040 Structure of the Earth  Jon Lomberg
PositionThumbnailDescriptionPhoto Credit
41 vgr 041 Heron Island (Great Barrier Reef of Australia)  Dr. Jay M. Pasachoff
42 Snake River and Grand Tetons Ansel Adams
43 Seashore Dick Smith 
44 Sand dunes George Mobley
45 Monument Valley Shostal Associates, Inc.
46 Forest scene with mushrooms Bruce Dale
47 Leaf Arthur Herrick
48 Autumn Fallen leaves Jodi Cobb
49 Snowflakes over Sequoia Josef Muench, R. Sisson
50 Tree with daffodils  Gardens of Winterthur
PositionThumbnailDescriptionPhoto Credit
51 Flying insect with flowers Borne on the Wind, Stephen Dalton
52 vgr 052 Diagram of vertebrate evolution  Jon Lomberg
53 Seashell (Xancidae) Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
54 Dolphins Thomas Nebbia
55 School of fish David Doubilet
56 Tree toad Dave Wickstrom
57 Crocodile Peter Beard
58 Eagle Taplinger Publishing Co.
59 Waterhole South African Tourist Corp.
60 Jane Goodall and chimps Vanne Morris-Goodall
PositionThumbnailDescriptionPhoto Credit
61 vgr 061 Sketch of bushmen  Jon Lomberg
62 Bushmen hunters R. Farbman, Time, Inc.
63 vgr 063 Man from Guatemala  UN
64 Dancer from Bali Donna Grosvenor
65 Andean girls Joseph Scherschel
66 Thailand master craftsman Dean Conger
67 Elephant Peter Kunstadter
68 Old man with beard and glasses (Turkey) Bruce Baumann
69 Leo Kenton Coleman with dog and flowers  Jonathon Blair
70 Mountain climber Gaston Rebuffat
PositionThumbnailDescriptionPhoto Credit
71 vgr 071 Gymnast (Cathy Rigby) Philip Leonian, Sports Illustrated
72 vgr 072 Sprinters
(Valeriy Borzov of the U.S.S.R. in lead)
 The History of the Olympics
73 vgr 073 Schoolroom  UN
74 vgr 074 Children with globe  
75 Cotton harvest Howell Walker
76 Grape picker David Moore
77 vgr 077 Supermarket  H. Eckelmann
78 Underwater scene with diver and fish Jerry Greenberg
79 vgr 079 Fishing boat with nets  UN
80 Cooking fish Cooking of Spain and Portugal, Time-Life Books
PositionThumbnailDescriptionPhoto Credit
81 Chinese dinner party Michael Rougier, Time-Life Books
82 vgr 082 Demonstration of licking, eating and drinking  H. Eckelmann
83 Great Wall of China H. Edward Kim
84 vgr 084 House construction (African)  UN
85 Construction scene (Amish country) William Albert Allard
86 vgr 086 House (Africa)  UN
87 House (New England) Robert Sisson
88 vgr 088 Modern house (Cloudcroft, New Mexico)  Dr. Frank Drake
89 House interior with artist and fire
(Jim Gray & his wife)
 Jim Amos
90 Taj Mahal David Carroll
PositionThumbnailDescriptionPhoto Credit
91 English city (Oxford) C.S. Lewis, Images of His World, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
92 Boston Ted Spiegel
93 vgr 093 UN Building Day  UN
94 vgr 094 UN Building Night  UN
95 Sydney Opera House Mike Long
96 Artisan with drill Frank Hewlett
97 Factory interior  Fred Ward
98 Museum David Cupp
99 vgr 099 X-ray of hand  H. Eckelmann
100 vgr 100 Woman with microscope  UN
PositionThumbnailDescriptionPhoto Credit
101 vgr 101 Street scene, Asia (Pakistan)  UN
102 vgr 102 Rush hour traffic, Thailand  UN
103 vgr 103 Modern highway (Ithaca, NY)  H. Eckelmann
104 Golden Gate Bridge Ansel Adams
105 Train Gordon Gahan
106 vgr 106 Airplane in flight  Dr. Frank Drake
107 Airport (Toronto) George Hunter
108 Antarctic Expedition Great Adventures with the National Geographic National Geographic
109 Radio telescope (Westerbork, Netherlands) James Blair
110 vgr 110 Radio telescope (Arecibo)  H. Eckelmann
PositionThumbnailDescriptionPhoto Credit
111 vgr 111 Page of book (Newton, System of the World)  
112 vgr 112 Astronaut in space  NASA
113 vgr 113 Titan Centaur launch  NASA
114 Sunset with birds David Harvey
115 String Quartet (Quartetto Italiano) Phillips Recordings
116 vgr 116 Violin with music score (Cavatina)  
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