Message in a Bottle

“I see no wisdom in the eagerness to be found and approached by any intelligence with the ability to accomplish it from any sector of space. In the meetings between ‘discoverers’ and ‘discoverees,’ history has always given the advantage to the finders.”

— Jack Kirby (1972)

Kirby was discussing the Jupiter Plaque, the 1970s project to design an image to be carried on the spacecrafts Pioneers 10 and 11. Both spacecrafts carried small metal plaques identifying their age and place of origin for the benefit of any spacefarers that might find come upon them in the distant future.

I think this must have been Jack’s first design, and concievably it was decided to change the color scheme — resulting in the image I showed you yesterday. Here is the image NASA ended up using.


I suppose some people were upset by the image of the nude male, so NASA placed a more ambitious message aboard Voyager 1 and 2 — a time capsule, intended to communicate a story about our world to any extraterrestrials who may find it. The Voyager message is on a phonograph record — a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on the Earth.

The contents of the record include a variety of natural sounds — the ocean, wind and thunder, birds, whales, and other animals; in addition to musical selections from different cultures and eras, and spoken greetings in 55 languages. Each record is encased in a protective aluminum jacket that also contains a cartridge and a needle and instructions for playing the disc. There are also 115 images encoded in analog form.

It will be 40,000 years before these spacecraft make a close approach to any other planetary system. In the distant future, I wonder how much something like these ancient earth spacecrafts will be worth on an extraterrestrial version of eBay?

Eternals #2, 1976 (pages 3 – 4).