every girl remembers her first space probe

Forty years ago this month, the first of the two Voyager spacecraft launched. And one of my first memories is a book of the first images sent back.

I was about five, but it wasn’t a kid’s book. No, it was my dad’s beautiful coffee table book high-resolution color photos. I’d look at Rainbow-hued Saturn and Jupiter and its moons, the tiny black and white image of Death Star-inspiration Mimas, and Io’s volcanoes for hours on end. For the life of me I can’t remember the name of the book, but I do remember those photos. Over the years I developed an appreciation for the sheer technological achievement of Voyager 1 and 2. I still marvel that I live in a time when such things are possible.

And then there was the Golden Record, which became even more interesting as I became a record-collecting teenager. Though I didn’t like half the music (hell, I doubt I knew the tracklist), it still struck me as The Ultimate Artifact: the first sounds any alien will hear of earth, assuming there are any to hear.

Picture of man and woman and diagram of the solar system as depicted on Voyager 1. Commentary: maybe aliens don't talk to us because we're creepy. i mean we send them weird mix tapes and we keep trying to find out where they live. Additional commentary: And we sent them some unsolicited nudes with directions to our house
Mind, the aliens might find the sleeve art off-putting. Courtesy MeMe

Imagine my thrill to discover the Voyager Golden Record project (full disclosure: I participated in the Kickstarter). Now on the 40th anniversary there’s this beautiful boxed set of the remastered disc (vinyl or CD) with a new book of even more gorgeous photos.

I know what’s on my Christmas list – for myself and as gifts for others.

Published by

Allison Thurman

Allison Thurman has always made stuff: out of fabric, metal, beads, even exaggerated fencing moves. Of late she makes stories out of weird history, with fragments of pop culture, unsolved mysteries, and science fiction mixed in for texture.

She lives in a galaxy far, far away (well, the DC metro area) with too many books and swords.

4 thoughts on “every girl remembers her first space probe”

  1. Cooooolllllll!!!!!!

    I was eight years old when the first moon landing happened. We were supposedly going to, at minimum, have colonies there and on Mars by the time I was an adult …

    I hope that someday somebody gets to live my dream of working in the first off-Earth public library.

    1. OMG, you were not only alive to see it but old enough to remember and appreciate the moon landing!

      And yeah. I’m still waiting for my flying car…

  2. Yup. I can also remember seeing the original Star Trek in its original first broadcast too (only snippets as I wasn’t normally allowed to be up that late at that age).
    Though funnily enough the memory from a couple years earlier of my school librarian trying to talk first-grader me out of signing out a picture book about what it would be like to live in a space station is much stronger than that of either the moon landing or ST:TOS. Probably due to my irritation level at the time … she didn’t out and out say it was only for boys but I could tell that’s what she meant. I did end up taking the space book (either she wasn’t actually allowed to forbid me or else she’d heard about my parents from my teacher and figured it’d be wiser not to) … it was WAY better than any of the mommy’s little helper crap she was trying to steer me toward. 😉

  3. Further on this one. I’m currently reading the July 2017 issue of Galaxy’s Edge magazine (yeah, behind on my reading) and Gregory Benford’s “A Scientist’s Notebook” column in this issue is about his involvement with creating a message to be included in the Cassini orbiter that was sent to Saturn in 1997. Interesting to read about the dilemmas and decisions regarding what environmentally-suitable medium to use as well as his original notion for what the message should be.
    Homepage for magazine is http://www.galaxysedge.com/; the July 2017 issue is in limbo at the moment, having just gone off the current issue page but not yet appearing in the archive, but the ebook version should be available via all the dealers listed on the site.

Leave a Reply