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The Golden Record — “We offer friendship across the stars”

I’ve followed news and documentaries on the Voyager probes over the decades. A friend recently wrote:

Did you happen to see the recent retrospective on the Voyager space crafts on PBS? 1  Great show!  Fascinating to see how much their work and their “baby” meant to the scientists and engineers — now in their 80s.

And there’s renewed interest in Voyager’s Golden Record.

[Wiki] Carl Sagan noted that “The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced space-faring civilizations in interstellar space, but the launching of this ‘bottle’ into the cosmic ‘ocean’ says something very hopeful about life on this planet.”

And this article “40 Years Out, NASA’s Twin Voyager Probes Inspire Golden Record Revivals” notes:

Inspired by the goodwill messages carried on the Golden Record, NASA chose to mark the 40th anniversary of the Voyager 1 launch by inviting the public to help identify a short message to be transmitted to the probe and what lies beyond it. The message was limited to 60 characters long, including spaces and punctuation.

… the winning message.

“We offer friendship across the stars. You are not alone,” …

“We’re sending it at the Voyager rate of 16 bits per second, which means it will take 28 seconds for the message to be totally transmitted,” said Jeff Berner, Deep Space Network chief engineer at JPL. “It will take about a little over 19 and a quarter hours for it to pass by Voyager on its way out to interstellar space. It will have traveled 12.9 billion miles.”

If you’re interested in additional online resources, see this article “Celebrate Voyager Probes’ 40th Anniversary with Scientist Stories, Free Posters.”

… Tuesday (Sept. 5) marks 40 years since the launch of the Voyager probes and the start of one of NASA’s most ambitious programs to date, and the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) wants to share this extraordinary milestone with the public by offering two wonderful online resources.

NASA/JPL posters and infographics for download, print, and share.

Poster image
Recalling the classic rock era of the late 1970s when the Voyagers launched, this poster is an homage to the mission’s greatest hits. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

[1] For example, broadcast on Sunday, September 17, 2017: PBS SoCal Ch 508 KOCE HD “The Farthest — Voyager in Space” (original air date 8/23/2017) 1 – 3 pm.

4 thoughts on “The Golden Record — “We offer friendship across the stars”

  1. On the subject of sending messages to the stars, this CNET article “We just sent a message to aliens who could respond by 2042” (11-16-2017) discusses “a complex message designed for aliens on a planet 12 light-years away” sent by METI (Messaging Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) International.

    METI is an organization dedicated to searching for and considering how to communicate with extraterrestrial intelligence. It was approached by Barcelona’s Sonar Festival to help develop a message that could be sent across the cosmos to celebrate the music and technology festival’s 25th year. The result is dubbed “Sonar Calling GJ273b,” and if everything goes perfectly, we could receive a response in 25 years from now, when Sonar turns 50.

    Sonar made its first public announcement about the transmissions on Wednesday. The Sonar Calling GJ273b signal was sent in the direction of GJ 273, also known as Luyten’s Star, just over 12 light-years away, on three successive days in October from the Eiscat transmitter in Tromsø, Norway.

  2. Speaking of our place in the “cosmic ocean,” this article notes another anniversary. > “‘Pale Blue Dot’ shines anew in Carl Sagan Institute video to mark iconic photo’s 30th anniversary” by Chelsea Gohd (February 19, 2020).

    Thirty years ago, the Voyager 1 spacecraft was traveling far out into the cosmos when it turned around and snapped one of the most iconic images of all time — the “Pale Blue Dot,” an image of Earth, a tiny blue speck shining brilliantly in a band of light.

    The image was taken thanks to a campaign led by Carl Sagan, the astronomer and famed science educator and author. At Saga’s request, NASA turned the spacecraft around and snapped a dazzling picture of Earth. For the anniversary, NASA engineer Kevin Gill spruced up the image, using modern image-processing software and techniques to enhance the picture (that was not available when the image was first taken) while keeping it true to its original form.

    YouTube > Carl Sagan Institute > “Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot – 30 Years On” (Feb 14, 2020)

    Caption: 30 years ago, Carl Sagan requested the Voyager 1 spacecraft take one last picture of Earth. This is the legacy of the Pale Blue Dot. Join us in our search for life in the Universe.

  3. JPL Virtual Tour

    And for JPL enthusiasts, I was reminded this morning that JPL has a wonderful online tour, a 360° interactive multimedia presentation. Just like Google’s Streetview. Use zoom, pan, hotspots to explore their place.

    JPL Virtual Tour Screenshot Example

  4. Voyager 1 and interstellar space plasma wave emission …

    • NASA > Goddard > “As NASA’s Voyager 1 Surveys Interstellar Space, Its Density Measurements Are Making Waves” (May 11, 2021)

    (quote) … on August 25, 2012, NASA’s Voyager 1 … crossed the heliosphere’s boundary, it became the first human-made object to enter – and measure – interstellar space. Now eight years into its interstellar journey, Voyager 1’s data is yielding new insights into what that frontier is like.

    “We have some ideas about how far Voyager will need to get to start seeing more pure interstellar waters, so to speak,” said Stella Ocker, a Ph.D. student at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and the newest member of the Voyager team. “But we’re not entirely sure when we’ll reach that point.”

    Ocker’s new study, published on Monday in Nature Astronomy, reports what may be the first continuous measurement of the density of material in interstellar space.

    In November 2012, three months after exiting the heliosphere, Voyager 1 heard interstellar sounds for the first time. Six months later, another “whistle” appeared …

    Ocker calls the new signal a plasma wave emission, and it, too, appeared to track the density of interstellar space. When the abrupt whistles appeared in the data, the tone of the emission rises and falls with them. The signal also resembles one observed in Earth’s upper atmosphere that’s known to track with the electron density there.

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