Less than a year before NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft were scheduled for takeoff, astronomer Carl Sagan and SETI researcher Frank Drake received an intriguing proposal from the space agency: Would they be interested in crafting a message to alien civilizations to accompany Voyager on its interstellar journey? Over the next nine months, Sagan, Drake, and a small team of scientists and artists scrambled to compile a unique document—part time capsule, part interstellar greeting—to send to the stars. The Golden Record was born.
Over the next three weeks, Science Friday is celebrating the legacy of the Golden Record, in anticipation of Voyager’s 40th anniversary next year. And we’re asking you: What would you include on a Golden Record?
This week, we explore the Golden Record’s history with two of its creators. Ann Druyan was the creative director for the record project (she would go on to co-write COSMOS: A Personal Voyage with her husband Carl Sagan). And Drake, author of the Drake equation, helmed the record’s picture sequence. Together, they join Ira to remember those frenzied months when they compiled the Golden Record—a “best of” collection of science, art, and ingenuity.