Iconic NASA Voyager Golden Record Copy for Sale at Sotheby’s Auction

27th Jul 2023
Iconic NASA Voyager Golden Record Copy for Sale at Sotheby’s Auction

A copy of the master recording for NASA’s Voyager Golden Record — the one kept by the late astronomer Carl Sagan and his wife, producer Ann Druyan — will be for sale at Sotheby’s New York on Thursday.

One of the most iconic pieces of space exploration history

Back in 1977, the twin Voyager probes were launched with the mission to explore our solar system. On board, they carried identical golden records, intended as a message from humanity to potential intelligent life beyond our world.

Contained within these records were audio and visual representations of Earth’s rich diversity of life and culture. The collection included greetings in 59 different human languages and 115 images depicting various aspects of life on our planet. Now, a copy of the master recording for the Voyager Golden Record, preserved by astronomer Carl Sagan and producer Ann Druyan, is set to be auctioned at Sotheby’s in New York.

Credit: Sotheby’s

The recordings, stored on two double-sided reels of audiotape, are expected to fetch a price ranging between $400,000 and $600,000. Remarkably, these tapes are still housed in their original boxes and feature a fascinating array of sounds and music from different cultures around the globe.

A message on the golden record

NASA proposed the idea to create this record to Carl Sagan and Frank Drake, both astronomy professors at Cornell University. With only six months to work on the project, they had to capture the essence of Earth’s sounds and visuals. Ann Druyan compiled a captivating sound essay, incorporating recordings of a rainforest, brain waves, heartbeats, and sounds from the celestial neighbourhood around Earth.

Eight copies of the Voyager Golden Record were produced, with two of them launched into space. Made of copper and plated in gold, these records were engineered to withstand billions of years, serving as a timeless representation of humanity’s art and culture.

Surpassing their initial four-year mission, the Voyager probes have continued to operate for an astonishing 45 years and are still going strong. Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 currently venture into interstellar space beyond the protective bubble known as the heliosphere. Along their journey, they gather invaluable data and offer insights into the shape and boundaries of the heliosphere.

Currently, Voyager 1 holds the record for being the farthest spacecraft from Earth, while Voyager 2 has travelled an astonishing distance of over 12 billion miles away from our home planet. These extraordinary probes continue their unparalleled expedition, exploring uncharted interstellar realms and expanding our knowledge of the vast universe.

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