In 1977, NASA made two records, each filled with recordings of nature noises, human sounds, classical music, and rock songs, along with this message etched between the grooves: "To the makers of music—all worlds, all times." Then, they sent these two records into space, one aboard the Voyager 1 and the other aboard the Voyager 2, in the hopes an alien civilization would pluck them from their trajectories.
In 2016, a Kickstarter campaign raised a million dollars to finally have the Voyager Golden Record released to donors as a vinyl edition boxed set through Ozma Records. Now, the Washington Post reports that Ozma will release the box set to the general public through
Light in the Attic as soon as January 2018. (They are now available as a two-disc CD set.)
The selections, meant to be a sonic introduction to Earth, hold up. Science writer Timothy Ferris, who helped put together the record along with Carl Sagan and others, described the track list recently for the New Yorker. There are compositions by Bach and Beethoven, as well as Blind Willie Johnson's "Dark Was the Night" and Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode." There are recordings of Morse code, falling rain, kisses, a baby crying, and crickets, among other natural sounds and folk music from around the world. President Jimmy Carter included a message, saying, "We hope someday, having solved the problems we face, to join a community of galactic civilizations."
The records were made from copper and gold to protect them from heat damage and dust. They should still be in perfect condition, according to NASA. They also contain images and written messages from Earth. Unfortunately, NASA was not able to send record players, so any extraterrestrial life form will just have to figure that one out on their own.
Today, one Voyager Golden Record remains in the solar system, out in the Heliosheath. The other exited the solar system in 2012 and is more than 13 billion miles from Earth. It's meant to last in space for billions of years. But besides being of historical cosmic importance and intergalactic significance, it'll make a cool addition to your record collection at home.
Written by Sarah Rense