Mixtape for the Milky Way

by Keith Rozendal on February 13, 2011

Ed Stone

Ed Stone, Caltech Professor of Physics, former director of JPL, Project Scientist, Voyager missions

Third in a series of occasional observations from AWA’s new intern, Keith Rozendal.

It was very exciting to sit in on the interview with Ed Stone for this week’s show (Out of this World). He’s still the chief scientist for NASA’s Voyager I and II missions, thirty-three years after launch. These deep space probes still send us data and could even survive to let humanity know what the weather is like in interstellar space. Yes, there is a wind that blows through the galaxy! Just one of the mind-blowing tidbits I gleaned from that interview.

I’m a fanatical music listener and vinyl purist, so I couldn’t wait to hear more about the golden records launched along with the probes. The idea has a touch of heroic romanticism: put a message from humanity on these first human artifacts to leave our solar system. The gesture continues to inspire folks, judging by this vivid prose from one of the many NASA and JPL websites devoted to the gold records:

“Billions of years from now, our Sun will have reduced Earth to a charred cinder. The golden record, however, should be largely intact aboard each Voyager craft at remote corners of the Milky Way galaxy.”

Voyager's golden record

The protective cover of the Voyager golden record

The contents of the message include natural sounds and images, pictures and greetings from many different nations. There’s a surprising proportion of the disc devoted to music. A perfect choice, in my view, to communicate some of the best of what it means to be human.

You can explore the entire contents of the golden records and learn more about Voyager at the links we’ve included above.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

avatar john Vigilante February 15, 2011 at 4:58 pm

great show guys. thanks.

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