February 26, 2024

A truly historic space-age record is up for auction, with individual copies of the Voyager 1 and 2 gold masters produced by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan coming up for auction at Sotheby’s.

Humans have a strange tendency to put information in a bottle and throw it into the ocean. It can be done literally or metaphorically, with pyramids, monuments, and time capsules cast on an ocean of time.some, such as westinghouse time capsule These buildings in New York were carefully crafted to preserve some of the records of our civilization for people 5,000 years from now. However, this is amateurish stuff compared to the golden records that flew on NASA’s Voyager missions, which are now leaving the solar system and may not be found for hundreds of millions of years.

NASA sees the Golden Record as the next logical step after two Pioneer missions, each carrying an anodized aluminum plate bolted to the probe, etched with a simple message showing the outline of the spacecraft, a drawing of a man and a woman, a map of pulsars with the location of Earth, the layout of the solar system and some physical constants that would help any alien life decipher that message.

gold disc
gold disc


Since Voyager was larger than Pioneer and had more time to prepare, NASA formed a committee chaired by Cornell University astronomer Carl Sagan to design a longer, more complex message. With the help of Ann Druyan, Frank Drake and others, they produced a gilded copper LP for protection during the long journey. It is sealed together with the phonograph needle in a special container in case gramophones are scarce on Epsilon Indi.

The record features a soundtrack of earth sounds, greetings in 59 different languages, and a selection of 27 musical compositions so eclectic that it has caused some controversy, as it turns out that many familiar classics were left out, making way for extremely obscure selections known only to ethnomusicologists.

However, the exciting part of the message was that phonograph records could record both image and sound—a fact well known to amateur television enthusiasts in the 1920s. This allowed engineers to join 115 images together with audio from Azerbaijani bagpipes. Some of the images are diagrams confirming that playback equipment is working, instructions on how to find Earth, mathematical equations, and explanations of Earth’s biochemistry. This is followed by scenes of life on Earth, including architecture, human diet, sporting events, dance, technology, agriculture and wildlife.

gold record cover
gold record cover


Additionally, an ultrapure sample of the radioactive isotope uranium-238 is implanted on the record cover, which will give Discovery a built-in clock showing how long Voyager has been in space. There is also a hand-engraved inscription that reads: “To the music makers of all worlds and all ages.”

“The Voyager mission was one of the greatest missions of exploration in history, and the Gold Record mission reflects incredible optimism, fascination and humility in the face of the great unknowns of the universe,” said Cassandra Hatton, Sotheby’s Global Head of Science and Popular Culture. , personal copies of the most unique artifacts.”

Bids for the Gold Record master are due until July 27, 2023, and are expected to fetch between $400,000 and $600,000.

source: Sotheby’s