NASA site mentions following facts about Voyager.

  1. Did you know that the record is a 30-cm gold-plated copper disc? Together with a needle and playing instructions, it is mounted on the body casing and on it are recorded natural Earth sounds, 90 min of music, 115 pictures, and greetings in 60 languages.

  2. Voyager 1 will remain within the confines of the solar system until it emerges from the Oort cloud in another 14,000 to 28,000 years

Thinking about the time span 14,000+ years to go just to get out from Oort cloud, it would take millions of years to reach another solar system.

  1. Aren't we endangering our future generations by sending out such a record to unknown aliens?
  2. Knowing that these crafts will take thousands of years just to get out of solar system these golden records concept seems like a publicity stunt by someone at NASA. What was the real need for this?
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    $\begingroup$ I'd look at it more like a time capsule for our species. As far as we know, we're alone on a tiny island in a vast ocean. We threw a bottle in the ocean, just in case. For me it's more of a gesture of wonder and a symbol of human achievement. When I think about Voyager leaving the solar system, I think it's amazing. When I think about that golden record, that represents our entire planet and not just the people who sent it there, it gives me hope for the future of humanity. I wish people were more often dreamers and future thinkers. $\endgroup$
    – House
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 17:05
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    $\begingroup$ The above comment brought a tear to my eye, and reminded me of this: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Star_%28Clarke_short_story%29 $\endgroup$
    – beth
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 19:08
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    $\begingroup$ "Pathetic earthlings. Hurling your bodies out into the void, without the slightest inkling of who or what is out here. If you had known anything about the true nature of the universe, anything at all, you would've hidden from it in terror." -- Ming the Merciless. $\endgroup$
    – Mark Adler
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 20:00
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    $\begingroup$ Unfortunately, the biggest threats to our future generations are from ourselves, and the critical time period for those threats is much shorter than 14,000 years. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 22:10

3 Answers 3


The thought was that long, long after we're gone as a species and perhaps even as a life-bearing planet, some record of our species, our culture, and of life on Earth would be preserved.

Yes, it provides directions to our solar system, but so does the velocity and position of the spacecraft itself.

In any case, it is very difficult to see how it would be found by anyone, unless they knew exactly where to look. Running across it accidentally would be like winning the lottery many times over. Space is big. Really big.

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    $\begingroup$ It would be like making the perfect NCAA bracket every year forever. $\endgroup$
    – Stu
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 14:31
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, space is big but hey, aliens might still pick up the probe on their long-range scanners ;) $\endgroup$
    – Christian
    Commented Mar 22, 2014 at 11:35

The Voyager probes, or any other spacecraft leaving the Solar system, do not pose a risk to future generations. As you mention in your question, they move relatively slowly. As Mark mentions in his answer: "Space is big. Really big". So the chances any starfaring non-Earth based life will find one of these craft are remote at best.

As mentioned in the question about Interstellar eavesdropping, we have been broadcasting to the Universe for a long time. There is a sphere currently about 90 light-years in size, where every solar system has had the opportunity to become aware of the Earth.

So that gold plated record on Voyager is comparatively less noticeable than a single grain of gold sand on an ocean beach.


On some level, it was absolutely a publicity stunt by NASA, although the word "stunt" is too disparaging. The people who put the record together (Carl Sagan, Frank Drake, and others) wrote a book about it called Murmurs of Earth. Early on, the record was just going to be a plaque, and one of their consultants is quoted in the book as saying:

There is only an infinitesimal chance that the plaque will ever be seen by a single extraterrestrial, but it will certainly be seen by billions of terrestrials. Its real function, therefore, is to appeal to and expand the human spirit, and to make contact with extraterrestrial intelligence a welcome expectation of mankind."


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