The crescent glow of Neptune and Triton taken by Voyager 2 as it heads to the edge of the Solar System

Message in a Bottle

It’s a little bit like throwing a bottle into the cosmic ocean. – Carl Sagan

There were some wonderful moments in BBC4’s documentary on the Voyager program: Voyager: To the Final Frontier. None more so than the emotive concluding remarks from the narrator and then the wonderful Carl Sagan. While intelligent extraterrestrial life might discover the gold records on each of the probes – there were actually two audiences…

You might think that it is a hopelessly quixotic project to launch this message in a bottle into interstellar space and expect anyone will find it, but there are really two kinds of recipients of the message on the Voyager records. One is the extra-terrestrial audience. The other audience is here down on Earth. Here is a moment when we have to suddenly think, “What is there about our culture that we would want others to know about, that we would be proud of?” The record should represent the human species as an entirety. The unity of the human species, seen down here, is a fact that is essential for the human future. – Carl Sagan

Header image, Neptune and Triton: © NASA. See also, Pale Blue Dot. Voyager: To the Final Frontier: Program Information