The “Golden Record” and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life

Out of the billions and billions of stars existing within our universe, why would our sun be the only star to have a planet booming with life in it’s orbit?  The question of whether or not extraterrestrial life exists somewhere else out in the universe has long been debated by scholars, scientists, and religious officials.  In 1977 two unmanned spacecraft were launched into the heavens with the goal of learning more about the solar system than humanity had ever known before.  Over the past 33 years the Voyager program has brought back countless pictures and information about our solar system and the universe itself.

Today, Voyager I and II are on the outskirts of our solar system.  Voyager I is not headed towards any start in particular, but it will take it another 40,000 years to pass 1.6 light years by the nearest one.  Constant communication with both spacecraft is kept as their missions are still in progress even after so many years.  If it’ll take Voyager I such a long time to get just 1.6 light years away from the nearest start, then will humanity ever come in contact with possible life that may exist elsewhere in the universe?

The Golden Record

While the prospect that extraterrestrial life will ever come in contact with the voyager spacecrafts is highly unlikely, if they do, they’ll perhaps be able to gain some knowledge of the diversity of planet Earth.  Before the two unmanned spacecrafts were launched, a committee lead by astronomer Carl Sagan selected what contents would be placed on the golden record, a disk made so that in case the spacecrafts did in fact come in contact with alien life, they’d be able to learn about Earth and humanity.  The golden records were then placed on each Voyager spacecraft before their respective launches in 1977.

The golden records aboard the voyager spacecrafts each contain 116 images, different sounds from earth (such as whale and dog noises), and greetings said in the form of over 50 different languages.  They also contain different songs that represent different countries and cultures.  For example, one of the songs included on the record representing the United States is “Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry.  Now after learning a little about the content of the golden records, perhaps you’re wondering, “even if aliens found it, how would they know how to play it?”  That one is anyone’s fair guess.

For more information on the contents of the golden record:


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