Forty years ago, NASA launched Voyager I and II to explore the outer solar system. The twin spacecraft both visited Jupiter and Saturn; from there Voyager I explored the hazy moon Titan, while Voyager II became the first (and, to date, only) probe to explore Uranus and Neptune. Since they move too quickly and have too little propellant to stop themselves, both spacecraft are now on what NASA calls their Interstellar Mission, exploring the space between the stars as they head out into the galaxy.
The grooves of the records record both ordinary audio and 115 encoded images. A team led by astronomer Carl Sagan selected the contents, chosen to embody a message representative of all of humanity. They settled on elements such as audio greetings in 55 languages, the brain waves of “a young woman in love” (actually the project's creative director Ann Druyan, days after falling in love with Carl Sagan), a wide-ranging selection of musical excerpts from Blind Willie Johnson to honkyoku, technical drawings and images of people from around the world, including Saan Hunters, city traffic and a nursing mother and child.Both craft carry Golden Records: 12-inch phonographic gold-plated copper records, along with needles and cartridges, all designed to last indefinitely in interstellar space. Inscribed on the records' covers are instructions for their use and a sort of “map” designed to describe the Earth’s location in the galaxy in a way that extraterrestrials might understand.