Carl Sagan’s master tapes for Voyager sell for 600 thousand dollars

On July 27, Sotheby’s will put up for auction a copy of the master tapes owned by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan. It was used to create the Golden Record, an audiovisual time capsule that was attached to the body of the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 space probes. These probes are now farther from Earth than any other man-made objects.

Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan’s personal master recordings for the Golden Record for NASA Voyager will be auctioned at Sotheby’s as part of the space exploration sale. Photo: Sotheby’s/NASA

The two reels are no longer too attractive, and the quality of their audio recordings is described as “excellent”. But what makes them valuable is that they belonged to the American astronomer and scientist of Ukrainian origin, Carl Sagan, and the American screenwriter and producer, Ann Druyan, who specializes in cosmology and the popularization of science. Sagan took part in the research programs of the planets of the Solar System, and together with Druyan became a co-author of the documentary series “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage”. The price was also influenced by the role of the most iconic gold plates of all existing ones.

Golden Record, with an aluminum engraved lid (left), is mounted on each of the two NASA Voyager probes. Photo: NASA

The Golden Record project was conceived by NASA as the next logical step after the two Pioneer missions. Each of these missions carried on board an anodized aluminum plate bolted to the probes. The plates were engraved with simple messages depicting the outline of a spacecraft, a drawing of a man and a woman, a pulsar map indicating the location of the Earth, the location of the Solar System, and some physical constants that would help any alien civilization decipher the message.

Unlike the Pioneer mission, the Voyager spacecraft were larger in size and had more time to prepare. In this regard, NASA formed a committee led by astronomer Carl Sagan from Cornell University to develop a longer and more complex message. With the help of Ann Druyan, Frank Drake and other scientists, the team developed a copper plate that was coated with gold to protect against cosmic dust and radiation. The record was sealed in a special container along with a phonograph needle in case someone came across this message in the future. Some “voices of the Earth” were preserved on the record: greetings in 59 different languages, as well as a selection of 27 musical compositions.

The two main Golden Record reels are delivered in original Columbia Recording Studios boxes, each of which has detailed information about the recordings contained inside. Photo: Sotheby’s

“The Voyager missions are among the greatest acts of exploration in history, and the undertaking of the Golden Record reflects the incredible optimism, fascination and humility when faced with the great unknown of the universe. Led by Ann Druyan and Carl Sagan, the production of the record was a monumental task and it is a great honor to offer their personal copy of this most profound and unique artifact,Therefore, it is a great honor for me to offer a personal copy of this unique and profound historical artifact,” said Cassandra Hatton, head of Sotheby’s Global Science & Popular Culture.

Applications for the Golden Record master tapes will be accepted until July 27, 2023. It is expected that their cost will be from 400 thousand to 600 thousand US dollars.

Earlier we reported on how the iconic photos of Armstrong and Aldrin from Apollo 11 were sold.

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