The Voyager Golden Records and Other Time Capsules

What sounds, music, and images would you like to preserve for thousands of years and be shot into space to perhaps inform extra-terrestrials of earth’s inhabitants? This was a question scientist Carl Sagan answered in 1977. With the help of NASA, a team of scientist sent up twin space probes Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 in the year of 1977 to explore deep space. Voyager 1 is still operational and can receive and send signals back to Earth.

Aboard these probes are 2 golden 12-inch records with recordings and images designed to give anyone – or anything – an idea what life was like on Earth up to that point. Due to the limited amount of space on the physical disks, scientists and anthropologists had to decide what were the most important things to represent sings of life. These are some of those selections.


People speaking greetings in 55 different languages (some dying/ancient languages or rare languages/dialects). You can listen to all of the greetings here and read them translated here. There were even whale songs on the record.


What songs can represent and convey millennia of human history? Well, Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode was one of them. Among others are traditional songs from cultures all over the world, orchestras playing Bach and Mozart, and Navajo chanting. Listen to the full songs on this YouTube playlist.


Believe it or not, there might someday be a generation that will never hear a frog croaking or a cricket chirping; even rain and thunder. This is the full list of sounds found on the record to preserve them but also share them with those in space.

“Music of the Spheres” – Johannes Kepler’s Harmonices Mundi realized by Laurie Spiegel

Volcanoes, Earthquake, Thunder

Mud Pots

Wind, Rain, Surf

Crickets, Frogs

Birds, Hyena, Elephant, Whale



Wild Dog

Footsteps, Heartbeat, Laughter (Sagan’s)

The First Tools

Tame Dog

Herding Sheep, Blacksmith, Sawing

Tractor, Riveter

Morse Code, Ships (precisely, a ship’s horn)

Horse and Cart

Train (specifically the whistle of a steam locomotive)

Tractor, Bus, Auto

F-111 Flyby, Saturn V Lift-off (Apollo 15)

Kiss, Mother and Child

Life Signs, Pulsar


There are 116 images engrained on the record. You can see them all here in this video. Images include human anatomy, food, animals, people hunting, and people in a grocery store, different types of dwellings from all over to world, an x-ray, DNA sequences, different ecosystems, and more. I implore you to watch the video as it will leave you breathless. Here are some of my favorites.
















I have always loved the idea of time capsules. It is so fascinating the things people think are important and the things that they think will no longer exist in its current state. Here are some other time capsules I am in love with and its contents.

The Crypt of Civilization: Closed in 1939 and not to be opened until the year 8113 A.D. It has a way to teach future people English in case it is no longer used, about 800 books and texts (including religious texts, novels, newspapers, and a signed manuscript of Gone with the Wind film) on microfilm, recordings of world leaders at the time, toys (Donald Duck, Roy Rogers, and Lincoln Logs), a bottle of beer, a woman’s purse with contents usually found in one, and miniature dolls depicting fashions of the time.

The Westinghouse Time Capsules: The first was closed in 1939, the other in 1965. These capsules are not to be opened until the 7th millennia (the year ~6900 ) Time Capsule I houses textile samples and plastics, along with newsreels, more microfilm, a dollar in change, seed samples like wheat, barley, and oats, and an almanac. Time Capsule II has much of the same but with things pertaining to the Space Race, Atomic Energy, and a book with an estimated 750,000 signatures from people that attended the 1964 World’s Fair and other dignitaries (President Johnson being the first signature).

The Nickelodeon Time Capsule: Buried to commemorate Nickelodeon Studios in 1992, Nickelodeon asked what was important to kids at the time. They answered with MC Hammer, Home Alone¸ a piece of the Berlin Wall, that week’s TV Guide, a book of endangered species, pictures of important people, Gak (slime), a Barbie, a pencil, a video camera, and a Game Boy with other stuff to be stuffed inside a capsule. It is not to be opened until April 30th, 2042. Watch it being buried here.

What would you put in a time capsule or on a golden record?


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