The Vinyl Frontier: The Story of NASA's Interstellar Mixtape
Published : Thursday 17 September 2020
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Jonathan Scott is our cheerful tour guide . . . and The Vinyl Frontier is our comprehensive and comprehensible itinerary. - Los Angeles Times
'Bursts with gloriously geeky detail.' The Telegraph Have you ever made someone you love a mix-tape? Forty years ago, a group of scientists, artists and writers gathered in a house in Ithaca, New York to work on the most important compilation ever conceived. It wasn't from one person to another, it was from Earth to the Cosmos. In 1977 NASA sent Voyager 1 and 2 on a Grand Tour of the outer planets. During the design phase of the Voyager mission, it was realised that this pair of plucky probes would eventually leave our solar system to drift forever in the unimaginable void of interstellar space. With this gloomy-sounding outcome in mind, NASA decided to do something optimistic. They commissioned astronomer Carl Sagan to create a message to be fixed to the side of Voyager 1 and 2 - a plaque, a calling card, a handshake to any passing alien that might one day chance upon them. The result was the Voyager Golden Record, a genre-hopping multi-media metal LP. A 90-minute playlist of music from across the globe, a sound essay of life on Earth, spoken greetings in multiple languages and more than 100 photographs and diagrams, all painstakingly chosen by Sagan and his team to create an aliens' guide to Earthlings. The record included music by J.S. Bach and Chuck Berry, a message of peace from US president Jimmy Carter, facts, figures and dimensions, all encased in a golden box. The Vinyl Frontier tells the story of NASA's interstellar mix-tape, from first phone call to final launch, when Voyager 1 and 2 left our planet bearing their hopeful message from the Summer of '77 to a distant future.