In the late ʼ70s, NASA launched the Voyager 1 and 2 space probes to explore the furthest reaches of our solar system. Included on the spacecraft was something special: a 90-minute time capsule of sounds, language, and music intended to represent the whole of humanity to any aliens who might stumble upon it.
If you had to make a playlist that represented life on Earth, what would you include?
That’s challenge a team of artists, scientists and musicologists led by astronomer Carl Sagan set for themselves in 1977. They compiled a gold-plated record of greetings, sounds, and music representing life on this planet, and sent it into space on NASA’s Voyager probes. The intended audience was extraterrestrials who might discover these spacecraft and wonder who sent them. That’s right, it was a mix tape for aliens.
This bonus episode of Just the Beginning features a story from our friends at the podcast Twenty Thousand Hertz, breaking down the Voyager Golden Record track by track. You’ll hear music from around the work as well as interviews with Tim Ferris and Linda Salzman Sagan, two of the folks who produced the record.
This story was produced by Leigh McDonald and Dallas Taylor with help from Sam Schneble and was sound designed and mixed by Nick Spradlin.
Twenty Thousand Hertz is produced out of the studios of Defacto Sound, and hosted by Dallas Taylor.
Music in this story:
David A Molina
Additional music in this episode: