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Planetary Imagery: 30 Years From Voyager Spacecraft

Wired has a gallery of Voyager photos up today that includes some Sagan material. There are some truly wonderful shots that I had never seen before.

Here's two that include mention of Dr. Sagan:


Voyager project manager John Casani displays the "Sounds of Earth" recording shortly before launch in 1977. The 12-inch gold-plated copper phonograph record was intended to serve as a time capsule that could communicate the story of Earth to extraterrestrials.

A NASA committee, chaired by renowned physicist Carl Sagan, assembled 115 images and a variety of natural sounds made by surf, wind, thunder, birds, whales and other animals. They also embedded musical selections from different cultures and eras, and spoken greetings in 55 languages. Encased in protective aluminum jackets, each record had its own cartridge and a needle. Instructions written in symbols explained the origin of the spacecraft and indicate how the record was to be played


Famed astronomer Carl Sagan served as a spokesman for the Voyager spacecraft. Here, Sagan discusses the Voyager 2 in the Jet Propulsion Labs in Pasadena, California on January 18th, 1986.

The Mix Tape of the Gods.

Joel passed along an excellent Op-ed from today's New York Times about the 30th Anniversary of the Voyager program, and what the Gold Records mean.

Excerpt, from "The Mix Tape of the Gods," by Timothy Ferris, dated September 5th, 2007, The New York Times.

Forty thousand years will elapse before Voyager 1, departing the realm of the Sun at a speed of 38,000 miles per hour, passes anywhere near another star. (It will drift within 1.7 light years of a dim bulb called AC+79 3888.) And 358,000 years will elapse before Voyager 2 approaches the bright star Sirius.

Out there, our concepts of velocity become provincial. The stars are moving, too, in gigantic orbits around the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Voyager, a toy boat on this dark sea, will not so much approach Sirius as watch it sail by, bobbing in its mighty wake.

Contemplation of Voyager’s billion-year future among the stars may make us feel small and the span of our history seem insignificant. Yet the very existence of the two spacecraft and the gold records they carry suggests that there is something in the human spirit able to confront vast sweeps of space and time that we can only dimly comprehend.