Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan +

Ithaca, NY, USA

The nature of life on Earth and the search for life elsewhere are two sides of the same question—the search for who we are.

The Golden Record is the only artwork likely to outlive the planet itself. Affixed to the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecrafts, these records were intended to be something in between a message in a bottle and a time capsule of all of human civilization—and in some sense, all life—on Earth.  Over a period of 10 months, the team of  Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, Frank Drake, Jon Lomberg, Timothy Ferris, and Linda Salzman Sagan compiled “The Golden Record”—a phonographic record made out of gold-plated copper and consisting of 115 analog-encoded photographs, greetings in 55 human languages, a 12-minute montage of sounds, and 90 minutes of music. The cry of a baby, whale song, footsteps, hyenas, heartbeats, crickets, laughter, frogs . . . pictures of mothers, children, playing, eating, running, dancing, cooking . . . cities, farms, supermarkets, and traffic jams. If there is any artwork that has attempted to portray the fundamental kinship of all of life on our planet in hopes of potentially forging kinship with intelligent life on some other planet, it is this record.  — AY

Making Kin Categories

The Golden Record

1977, gold-plated copper

“Billions of years from now our sun, then a distended red giant star, will have reduced Earth to a charred cinder. But the Voyager record will still be largely intact, in some other remote region of the Milky Way galaxy, preserving a murmur of an ancient civilization that once flourished—perhaps before moving on to greater deeds and other worlds—on the distant planet Earth.”  — Carl Sagan

For Other Worlds to See

1977, photographic and audio data encoded on a gold-plated copper disk

NASA/JPL-Caltech (unless otherwise noted)

The Sounds of Earth

A montage of sounds.

NASA/JPL-Caltech (unless otherwise noted)

Reflection; self-reflection

About Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan +

Carl Sagan (1934 – 1996)  was an American astronomer, planetary scientist, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, and science communicator. His best known scientific contribution is research on extraterrestrial life and exploration. Sagan assembled the first physical messages sent into space: the Pioneer plaque and the Voyager Golden Record, universal messages that could potentially be understood by extraterrestrial beings that might find them.  A prolific scientific researcher, author, and host of the popular PBS series, Cosmos, Sagan was a professor at Cornell University.

Ann Druyan (1949 – ) is an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning American writer, producer, and director specializing in the communication of science. She co-wrote the 1980 PBS documentary series Cosmos, hosted by Carl Sagan, whom she married in 1981. She is the creator, producer, and writer of the 2014 sequel, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey and its sequel series, Cosmos: Possible Worlds. She was the Creative Director of NASA’s Voyager Interstellar Message Project, the golden discs affixed to both the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft.