Photographs Launched into Space on the Voyager Space Probes

If you had the task of choosing some photos that represented Earth and mankind to extraterrestrial life forms, which photos would you select? NASA had to do this back in 1977 when it launched the Voyager space probes, which are now the farthest human-made objects from Earth. A committee led by Carl Sagan eventually settled on 116 images:

[…] a collection of 116 pictures (one of which is for calibration) detailing but not limited to human life on earth and the planet itself. Many pictures are annotated with one or many indications of scales of time, size or mass. Some images also contain indications of chemical composition. All measures used on the pictures are first defined in the first few images using physical references.

Among the photos chosen was Ansel Adam’s famous Snake River and Grand Tetons photograph.

Here are some of the other images they decide to include:

A photograph showing Egypt, Red Sea, Sinai Peninsula and the Nile:

An image that shows humans eating. More specifically, licking, biting, and drinking:

A photo of a human hand, and an X-ray of the hand:

A woman in a supermarket who’s also eating:

Wikipedia has a comprehensive list of images (and other messages) that we included on the spacecraft.

Contents of the Voyager Golden Record (via ALTFoto)

  • Adam

    Awesome!  I question the value of including the chemical composition of air, since aliens would have no way of knowing that N, for example, represents nitrogen.  But still, it’s an interesting thought-experiment to ponder what photos should be included.

  • Felipe Yang

    Agreed. And even if they did understand it, we would basically be ushering a potentially superior alien race to come raid us for our resources. Have they never seen sci-fi movies? 

  • Andres Rey

    Thanks for the link, Michael!


    We the life out there see these images of aliens (us) doing weird things. they are going to really think we are idiots. Also im sure we have better images we going have sent.

  • Matthias Plunkett

    We kind of misrepresented ourselves on a galactic level for omitting images of eco destruction , greed and war.

  • Flgraphics

    oh great.. now they will know how easy it will be for them to come and destroy us and take over our planet.

  • Sebastián Soto

    Extraterrestial conclusion: humans live of putting stuff inside their mouths.