Voyager 1 and 2: Earth’s message in a bottle for extraterrestrialsby Cherlyn Gardner Strong on Aug. 30, 2010, under Paranormal, UFOs
Yesterday, I wrote about the experts who are currently involved in a debate over whether or not we should contact extraterrestrials. In that post, I referenced NASA’s message of love aimed at Polaris in 2008, in the form of a Beatles song. It was my opinion, as a non-expert, that it’s really too late to hide. We’ve put several messages out there, both intentionally and non-intentionally.
Today, I am going to talk mainly about the Voyager 1 and 2 probes, launched 33 years ago by NASA – and what NASA launched with those probes. I suppose that this also serves as a commemorative post honoring the launches.
This Sunday, September 5th is the 33rd anniversary of the launch of Voyager 1. August 20th was the 33rd anniversary of the launch of Voyager 2. Yes, the twin probes were launched out of order since Voyager 1 was sent on a shorter and quicker trajectory and reached Jupiter and Saturn before Voyager 2.
The probes are still out there in space, far, far away and are still working for NASA. Still transmitting and still receiving instruction, the priority of the probes is to explore space and send images back to Earth.
They also have another mission while out there in space.
These two probes also act as “messages in a bottle”. They contain golden record albums and visual instructions on how to construct a record player in order to play them.
As Carl Sagan, the committee chair for this NASA project said:
“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.”
I do have to wonder why the experts today are suddenly not as excited get a message to an extraterrestrial.
Although the chances that this message in a bottle being found are slim, the golden records do contain a ton of information about Earth.
What is on these records? Well, lots of things. This is from Wikipedia:
“The contents of the record were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan of Cornell University. Dr. Sagan and his associates assembled 116 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind, and thunder, and animal sounds, including the songs of birds and whales. To this they added musical selections from different cultures and eras, spoken greetings in fifty-five languages, and printed messages from President Jimmy Carter and U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim.
The collection of images includes many photographs and diagrams both in black and white and color. The first images are of scientific interest, showing mathematical and physical quantities, the solar system and its planets, DNA, and human anatomy and reproduction. Care was taken to include not only pictures of humanity, but also some of animals, insects, plants and landscapes. Images of humanity depict a broad range of cultures. These images show food, architecture, and humans in portraits as well as going about their day to day lives. Many pictures are annotated with one or more indications of scales of time, size, or mass. Some images contain indications of chemical composition. All measures used on the pictures are defined in the first few images using physical references that are likely to be consistent anywhere in the universe.”
I made that one bit of information bold…”the solar system and its planets”. Would that be sort of like a map showing where we are?
Well, maybe we’ve got nothing to worry about. Also noted in Wikipedia:
As the probes are extremely small compared to the vastness of interstellar space, it is extraordinarily unlikely that they will ever be accidentally encountered. If they are ever found by an alien species, it will most likely be far in the future, and thus the record is best seen as a time capsule or a symbolic statement rather than a serious attempt to communicate with extraterrestrial life.
Okay, so I’ll view it as recommended per the statement above. I’ll look at it as a symbolic statement out there in space with tons of Earth’s information enclosed in it. It isn’t likely that some UFO or spaceship will come along and scoop it up. At least in my lifetime…maybe.
However, NASA sent messages to extraterrestrials before that.
Pioneer 10 and 11 preceded Voyager 1 and 2. Pioneer 10 (launched in 1973) and 11 (launched in 1972). Each carried a plaque with a message to any extraterrestrial intelligence that might find them. The plaque “includes a drawing depicting a man, a woman, the transition of a hydrogen atom, and the location of the Sun and Earth in the galaxy.”
Okay, so I did some bolding for emphasis of that map again.
So, what happened to Pioneer 10 and 11? The last communication with Pioneer 1o was January 23, 2003, with a final contact attempt on March 4, 2006. The last communication with Pioneer 11 was November 1, 1995. They are still out there, though, presumably still on their missions far, far away.
There are now at least four maps floating around in the “cosmic ocean”, in addition to whatever else NASA has launched into space that have disclosed Earth’s location.
My point is that we are exploring further and further out into space. We’ve also sent some messages (and maps) out there into that “cosmic ocean” already. Unless there is something that SETI, Stephen Hawking and others are not sharing with us, then why is there sudden debate about hesitancy related to contacting extraterrestrials?
Click here for further reading on the Voyager interstellar mission, currently celebrating 33 years in space. Where are they now? Here is a timeline of their whereabouts through 2015.