NASA — The Pale Blue Dot and the Golden Record
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The Pale Blue Dot and the Golden Record

Almost thirty years ago, on Feb. 14, 1990, our Voyager 1 spacecraft turned back toward its home for one last look. 40 astronomical units (almost 4 billion miles) from the Sun, Voyager snapped the first-ever “family portrait” of our solar system.

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One image in particular highlights our own planet’s fragility in the vast cosmic arena that we call home. This image of Earth, a tiny point of light, is contained in a camera artifact that resembles a beam of sunlight.

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The late Carl Sagan referred to this image of Earth in the title of his 1994 book, Pale Blue Dot. Sagan wrote: “That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. … There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

We placed a message aboard Voyager 1 and 2 — a kind of time capsule intended to communicate a story of our world to extraterrestrials. The Voyager message is carried by a phonograph record: a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth.

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The Golden Record includes 115 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind and thunder, birds, whales and other animals. Musical selections from different cultures and eras were also added, as well as spoken greetings from Earth-people in fifty-five languages and printed messages from President Carter.

The Golden Record represents the whole of humanity, mounted to a feat of human engineering on a long voyage through interstellar space. 

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You can listen to the sounds of Earth on the golden record here and take a moment to appreciate our pale blue dot. 

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