Forty years ago, NASA launched Voyager 1 and 2 with the hope of discovering solar systems far beyond our own. Early in their journeys, the Voyager spacecraft photographed Earth’s neighboring planets from a proximity we never thought reachable, and recorded data that currently serves as the basis of each planet’s physical and environmental bio. But, once the spacecraft left our solar system, the cameras turned off. The final, physical picture NASA obtained was a one-of-a-kind family portrait featuring all eight planets (sorry, Pluto) waving goodbye to our beloved space travelers as they venture through a star-filled, anti-gravity abyss.
At the rate they’re moving, scientists predict it will take another forty thousand years for the Voyager spacecraft to touch down in a solar system mysterious and invisible to us patient patrons of Earth. Meanwhile, we’re left to wonder: Where are they going? Who (or what) will find them? And what will happen when they do?
While we’re pretty much in the dark with regard to all this, what we do know for sure is just what a treat these other lifeforms can expect once they stumble upon our intergalactic space twins. Think of Voyager 1 and 2 like Earth’s after-party goodie bags, but before the party even gets started. When it came to filling them with the treats of the time period, Carl Sagan thought of pretty much everything that could provide insight into both the science and culture of humanity as a whole.
In addition to over a dozen human anatomy lessons, 55 ancient and modern Earthling greetings, several chemical-elemental diagrams, and a handwritten letter from our solar system’s first official pen pal, President Jimmy Carter, the spacecraft also include the sounds of myriad animal and human noises, as well as a fuego 90-minute soundtrack of tunes that are responsible for perpetuating the heartbeat of the planet we call home. Not only will the aliens who discover Voyager 1 and 2 know more about humanity than most of us do, but they will also be unknowingly privileged with a progressive ASMR treatment when they hear the uniquely calming yet intriguing sounds of a mother’s kiss, the clanking of mud pots, and the fleeting consistency of an ocean’s surf.
Ideally, the who or what that discovers our existence will respond in some way. But, even if after all this time we’re left on “read,” the confirmation that we share this universe with other lifeforms is enough to get our scientific sides giddy.
After all, a lot can happen in forty thousand years.
Get involved as we let our imaginations run wild with the mystery of discovery through The Voyager NYE event.
Grab a ticket while you can, Earthlings.
Photo credit: JPL, NASA