Ann Druyan on the Voyager Golden Record

“Whenever I’m down, I’m thinking: And still they move, 35,000 miles an hour, leaving our solar system for the great wide open sea of interstellar space.”

– Ann Druyan


In 1977, NASA placed an ambitious message aboard Voyager 1 and 2 intended to communicate a story of our world to extraterrestrials. The creation of the message, carried on what would become known as “The Golden Record”, initiated one of the coolest collaborations in space exploration…that between Ann Druyan and Carl Sagan. In the featured audio, Druyan¬†recalls that fateful summer when she and Carl fell in love, and of the Voyager mission:

It was a chance to tell something of what life on Earth was like to beings of perhaps 1,000 million years from now. If that didn’t raise goose bumps, then you’d have to be made out of wood.

Along with many colleagues, Ann and Carl created a cosmic audio-visual mashup that included “…115 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind and thunder, birds, whales, and other animals. To this they added musical selections from different cultures and eras, and spoken greetings from Earth-people in fifty-five languages…”

Voyager Golden Record Cover

Cover of the Voyager Golden Record. Image: NASA/JPL.


Once the Voyager spacecrafts leave the solar system, they will continue their journey through interstellar space. Forty thousand years will have passed before they approach another planetary system. As Carl Sagan noted:

The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced spacefaring civilizations in interstellar space. But the launching of this bottle into the cosmic ocean says something very hopeful about life on this planet.



“What is the Golden Record?”, NASA/JPL.

Audio fragment from Radiolab’s Podcast: “Space” (Season 2, Episode 5)


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