“There is no way to forestall what can’t be fathomed, no way to guess what hurts we are trying to protect ourselves from. We have to know in order to love. We have to risk everything. We have to open ourselves up to contact, even with the possibility of disaster.”
~ Penny Lane, The Voyagers
In 1977, NASA sent two spacecraft—Voyager 1 and Voyager 2—on an epic journey. No return was possible.
Eventually, the Voyagers would escape our solar system and travel through interstellar space, which finally occurred in the last decade.
Each spacecraft carried a golden record album with a compilation of the best “samples” of life on planet Earth: salutations in 55 languages; the sounds of birds, whales, thunder, the ocean; several pieces by Bach; Navajo Indian chants and 115 images documenting human life, among other human curiosities.
The opening letter begins with this message from Jimmy Carter:
“This is a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours.”
Images carved on one side of the disc explain how to play the record.
According to Carl Sagan, who headed the operation, “the spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced space-faring civilizations in interstellar space.”
Among the sounds on the Voyagers recordings, was the beating of a woman’s heart. A woman in love.
Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan, his partner on the project, fell madly in love during their work together.
“It was an Eureka moment,” said Druyan about the moment they realized, “I finally understood what it is to make a scientific discovery.”
Sagan then suggested that Ann should include the sounds of her own body and heartbeat in the samples.
“The golden record became their love letter to humankind and to each other,” says filmmaker Penny Lane, who, 30 years later, encapsulated this story into her own journey, in this magical short film.
“In the summer of 2010, I began my own hopeful voyage into the unknown. This film is a love letter to my fellow traveler.”
“Carl & I knew we were the beneficiaries of chance. That chance can be so kind, that we could find one another in the vastness of space, and the immensity of time. We knew that every moment should be cherished as the precious and unlikely coincidence that it was.”
Ann Druyan on the Voyagers and Sagan, in her own words:
You know, a thousand million years is a long time…
“Ultimately, you have to ask yourself, how much you hope for, and how much risk you’re willing to take…”
More on space, love & us:
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