Pioneer plaque

Pioneer plaque

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The Pioneer plaques are a pair of gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

-anodized aluminium
Aluminium
Aluminium or aluminum is a silvery white member of the boron group of chemical elements. It has the symbol Al, and its atomic number is 13. It is not soluble in water under normal circumstances....

 plaques
Commemorative plaque
A commemorative plaque, or simply plaque, is a plate of metal, ceramic, stone, wood, or other material, typically attached to a wall, stone, or other vertical surface, and bearing text in memory of an important figure or event...

 which were placed on board the 1972 Pioneer 10
Pioneer 10
Pioneer 10 is a 258-kilogram robotic space probe that completed the first interplanetary mission to Jupiter, and became the first spacecraft to achieve escape velocity from the Solar System. The project was managed by the NASA Ames Research Center and the contract for the construction of the...

and 1973 Pioneer 11
Pioneer 11
Pioneer 11 is a 259-kilogram robotic space probe launched by NASA on April 6, 1973 to study the asteroid belt, the environment around Jupiter and Saturn, solar wind, cosmic rays, and eventually the far reaches of the solar system and heliosphere...

spacecraft
Spacecraft
A spacecraft or spaceship is a craft or machine designed for spaceflight. Spacecraft are used for a variety of purposes, including communications, earth observation, meteorology, navigation, planetary exploration and transportation of humans and cargo....

, featuring a pictorial message
Pictogram
A pictograph, also called pictogram or pictogramme is an ideogram that conveys its meaning through its pictorial resemblance to a physical object. Pictographs are often used in writing and graphic systems in which the characters are to considerable extent pictorial in appearance.Pictography is a...

, in case either Pioneer 10 or 11 are intercepted by extraterrestrial life
Extraterrestrial life
Extraterrestrial life is defined as life that does not originate from Earth...

. The plaques show the nude figures of a human male and female along with several symbols that are designed to provide information about the origin of the spacecraft.

The Pioneer spacecraft were the first human-built objects to leave the Solar System
Solar System
The Solar System consists of the Sun and the astronomical objects gravitationally bound in orbit around it, all of which formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud approximately 4.6 billion years ago. The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun...

. The plaques were attached to the spacecraft's antenna
Antenna (radio)
An antenna is an electrical device which converts electric currents into radio waves, and vice versa. It is usually used with a radio transmitter or radio receiver...

 support strut
Strut
A strut is a structural component designed to resist longitudinal compression. Struts provide outwards-facing support in their lengthwise direction, which can be used to keep two other components separate, performing the opposite function of a tie...

s in a position that would shield them from erosion by stellar dust.

The Voyager Golden Record
Voyager Golden Record
The Voyager Golden Records are phonograph records which were included aboard both Voyager spacecraft, which were launched in 1977. They contain sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth, and are intended for any intelligent extraterrestrial life form, or for...

, a much more complex and detailed message using (then) state-of-the-art media, was attached to the Voyager spacecraft
Voyager program
The Voyager program is a U.S program that launched two unmanned space missions, scientific probes Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. They were launched in 1977 to take advantage of a favorable planetary alignment of the late 1970s...

 launched in 1977.

History


The original idea, that the Pioneer spacecraft should carry a message from humankind, was first mentioned by Eric Burgess
Eric Burgess
Eric Burgess was an English freelance consultant, lecturer and journalist, who wrote about the Pioneer program of space missions since the first tests in 1957...

 when he visited the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. The facility is headquartered in the city of Pasadena on the border of La Cañada Flintridge and Pasadena...

 in Pasadena, California
Pasadena, California
Pasadena is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although famous for hosting the annual Rose Bowl football game and Tournament of Roses Parade, Pasadena is the home to many scientific and cultural institutions, including the California Institute of Technology , the Jet...

 during the Mariner 9
Mariner 9
Mariner 9 was a NASA space orbiter that helped in the exploration of Mars and was part of the Mariner program. Mariner 9 was launched toward Mars on May 30, 1971 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and reached the planet on November 13 of the same year, becoming the first spacecraft to orbit...

 mission. He approached Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan
Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

, who had lectured about communication with extraterrestrial
Extraterrestrial life
Extraterrestrial life is defined as life that does not originate from Earth...

 intelligences at a conference in Crimea
Crimea
Crimea , or the Autonomous Republic of Crimea , is a sub-national unit, an autonomous republic, of Ukraine. It is located on the northern coast of the Black Sea, occupying a peninsula of the same name...

.

Sagan was enthusiastic about the idea of sending a message with the Pioneer spacecraft. NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 agreed to the plan and gave him three weeks to prepare a message. Together with Frank Drake
Frank Drake
Frank Donald Drake PhD is an American astronomer and astrophysicist. He is most notable as one of the pioneers in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, including the founding of SETI, mounting the first observational attempts at detecting extraterrestrial communications in 1961 in Project...

 he designed the plaque, and the artwork was prepared by Sagan's then-wife Linda Salzman Sagan
Linda Salzman Sagan
Linda Salzman Sagan is an artist and writer, famed for creating the artwork for the plaque on the Pioneer spacecraft and for coproducing the Voyager Golden Record. She co-authored the book Murmurs of Earth with her ex-husband, astronomer Carl Sagan, whom she married on April 6, 1968; the marriage...

.

Both plaques were manufactured at Precision Engravers, San Carlos
San Carlos, California
San Carlos is a city in San Mateo County, California, USA on the San Francisco Peninsula, about halfway between San Francisco and San Jose. It is an affluent small residential suburb located between Belmont to the north and Redwood City to the south. San Carlos' ZIP code is 94070, and it is within...

, California.

The first plaque was launched with Pioneer 10 on March 2, 1972, and the second followed with Pioneer 11 on April 5, 1973.

Physical properties

  • Material: 6061 T6
    6061 aluminum
    6061 is a precipitation hardening aluminum alloy, containing magnesium and silicon as its major alloying elements. It has good mechanical properties and exhibits good weldability...

     gold-anodized aluminum
  • Width: 229 mm (9 inches)
  • Height: 152 mm (6 inches)
  • Thickness: 1.27 mm (0.05 inches)
  • Mean depth of engraving
    Engraving
    Engraving is the practice of incising a design on to a hard, usually flat surface, by cutting grooves into it. The result may be a decorated object in itself, as when silver, gold, steel, or glass are engraved, or may provide an intaglio printing plate, of copper or another metal, for printing...

    : 0.381 millimetre (0.015 inches)
  • Mass: approx. 0.12 kilograms (120 g) (4.2 oz)

Hyperfine transition of neutral hydrogen



At the top left of the plate is a schematic representation of the hyperfine transition of hydrogen
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

, which is the most abundant element
Abundance of the chemical elements
The abundance of a chemical element measures how relatively common the element is, or how much of the element is present in a given environment by comparison to all other elements...

 in the universe
Universe
The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space. Definitions and usage vary and similar terms include the cosmos, the world and nature...

. Below this symbol is a small vertical line to represent the binary
Binary numeral system
The binary numeral system, or base-2 number system, represents numeric values using two symbols, 0 and 1. More specifically, the usual base-2 system is a positional notation with a radix of 2...

 digit 1. This spin-flip transition
Spin (physics)
In quantum mechanics and particle physics, spin is a fundamental characteristic property of elementary particles, composite particles , and atomic nuclei.It is worth noting that the intrinsic property of subatomic particles called spin and discussed in this article, is related in some small ways,...

 of a hydrogen atom
Hydrogen atom
A hydrogen atom is an atom of the chemical element hydrogen. The electrically neutral atom contains a single positively-charged proton and a single negatively-charged electron bound to the nucleus by the Coulomb force...

 from electron
Electron
The electron is a subatomic particle with a negative elementary electric charge. It has no known components or substructure; in other words, it is generally thought to be an elementary particle. An electron has a mass that is approximately 1/1836 that of the proton...

 state spin up to electron state spin down can specify a unit of length (wavelength
Wavelength
In physics, the wavelength of a sinusoidal wave is the spatial period of the wave—the distance over which the wave's shape repeats.It is usually determined by considering the distance between consecutive corresponding points of the same phase, such as crests, troughs, or zero crossings, and is a...

, 21 cm) as well as a unit of time (frequency
Frequency
Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit time. It is also referred to as temporal frequency.The period is the duration of one cycle in a repeating event, so the period is the reciprocal of the frequency...

, 1420 MHz
Hertz
The hertz is the SI unit of frequency defined as the number of cycles per second of a periodic phenomenon. One of its most common uses is the description of the sine wave, particularly those used in radio and audio applications....

). Both units are used as measurements in the other symbols.

Figures of a man and a woman



On the right side of the plaque, a man and a woman are shown in front of the spacecraft. Between the brackets that indicate the height of the woman, the binary representation of the number 8 can be seen (1000, with a small defect in the first zero). In units of the wavelength of the hyperfine transition of hydrogen this means 8 × 21 cm = 168 cm.

The right hand of the man is raised as a sign of good will. Although this gesture may not be understood, it offers a way to show the opposable thumb and how the limbs
Limb (anatomy)
A limb is a jointed, or prehensile , appendage of the human or other animal body....

 can be moved.

Originally Sagan intended for the humans holding hands, but soon realized that an extraterrestrial might perceive the figure as a single creature rather than two organisms. The figures appear to be white
White people
White people is a term which usually refers to human beings characterized, at least in part, by the light pigmentation of their skin...

 and Occidental, but the generic depiction of humankind was intended to be as racially ambiguous as possible.

One can see that the woman's genitals
Sex organ
A sex organ, or primary sexual characteristic, as narrowly defined, is any of the anatomical parts of the body which are involved in sexual reproduction and constitute the reproductive system in a complex organism; flowers are the reproductive organs of flowering plants, cones are the reproductive...

 are not really depicted; only the mons veneris
Mons pubis
In human anatomy or in mammals in general, the mons pubis , also known as the mons veneris or simply the mons, is the adipose tissue lying above the pubic bone of adult females, anterior to the pubic symphysis...

is shown. It has been claimed that Sagan, having little time to complete the plaque, suspected that NASA would have rejected a more intricate drawing and therefore made a compromise just to be safe. However, according to Mark Wolverton's more detailed account, the original design included a "short line indicating the woman's vulva
Vulva
The vulva consists of the external genital organs of the female mammal. This article deals with the vulva of the human being, although the structures are similar for other mammals....

". It was erased as condition for approval by John Naugle, former head of NASA's Office of Space Science and the agency's former chief scientist.

Sagan himself, however, later wrote:
"The decision to omit a very short line in this diagram was made partly because conventional representation in Greek statuary
Classical sculpture
Classical sculpture refers to the forms of sculpture from Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, as well as the Hellenized and Romanized civilizations under their rule or influence from about 500 BC to fall of Rome in AD 476. It also refers stylistically to modern sculptures done in a classical style....

 omits it. But there was another reason: Our desire to see the message successfully launched on Pioneer 10. In retrospect, we may have judged NASA's scientific-political hierarchy as more puritanical than it is. In the many discussions that I held with such officials up to the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the President's Science Adviser, not one Victorian
Victorian morality
Victorian morality is a distillation of the moral views of people living at the time of Queen Victoria's reign and of the moral climate of the United Kingdom throughout the 19th century in general, which contrasted greatly with the morality of the previous Georgian period...

 demurrer was ever voiced; and a great deal of helpful encouragement was given...The idea of government censorship of the Pioneer 10 plaque is now so well documented and firmly entrenched that no statement from the designers of the plaque to the contrary can play any role in influencing the prevailing opinion. But we can at least try."

Relative position of the Sun to the center of the Galaxy and 14 pulsars



The radial pattern on the left of the plaque shows 15 lines emanating from the same origin
Origin (mathematics)
In mathematics, the origin of a Euclidean space is a special point, usually denoted by the letter O, used as a fixed point of reference for the geometry of the surrounding space. In a Cartesian coordinate system, the origin is the point where the axes of the system intersect...

. Fourteen of the lines have corresponding long binary numbers, which stand for the periods
Frequency
Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit time. It is also referred to as temporal frequency.The period is the duration of one cycle in a repeating event, so the period is the reciprocal of the frequency...

 of pulsar
Pulsar
A pulsar is a highly magnetized, rotating neutron star that emits a beam of electromagnetic radiation. The radiation can only be observed when the beam of emission is pointing towards the Earth. This is called the lighthouse effect and gives rise to the pulsed nature that gives pulsars their name...

s, using the hydrogen spin-flip transition frequency as the unit. Since these periods will change over time, the epoch
Epoch (astronomy)
In astronomy, an epoch is a moment in time used as a reference point for some time-varying astronomical quantity, such as celestial coordinates, or elliptical orbital elements of a celestial body, where these are subject to perturbations and vary with time...

 of the launch can be calculated from these values.

The lengths of the lines show the relative distances of the pulsars to the Sun
Sun
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

. A tick mark at the end of each line gives the Z coordinate perpendicular to the galactic plane
Galactic plane
The galactic plane is the plane in which the majority of a disk-shaped galaxy's mass lies. The directions perpendicular to the galactic plane point to the galactic poles...

.

If the plaque is found, only some of the pulsars may be visible from the location of its discovery. Showing the location with as many as 14 pulsars provides redundancy so that the location of the origin can be triangulated
Triangulation
In trigonometry and geometry, triangulation is the process of determining the location of a point by measuring angles to it from known points at either end of a fixed baseline, rather than measuring distances to the point directly...

 even if only some of the pulsars are recognized.

The data for one of the pulsars is misleading. When the plaque was designed, the frequency of pulsar "1240" (now known as J1243-6423) was known to only three significant decimal digits: 0.388 seconds. The map lists the period of this pulsar in binary to much greater precision: 100000110110010110001001111000. Rounding this off at about 10 significant bits (100000110100000000000000000000) would have provided a hint of this uncertainty. This pulsar is represented by the long line pointing down and to the right.

The fifteenth line on the plaque extends to the far right, behind the human figures. This line indicates the sun's relative distance to the center of the galaxy.

The pulsar
Pulsar
A pulsar is a highly magnetized, rotating neutron star that emits a beam of electromagnetic radiation. The radiation can only be observed when the beam of emission is pointing towards the Earth. This is called the lighthouse effect and gives rise to the pulsed nature that gives pulsars their name...

 map and hydrogen molecule diagram are shared in common with the Voyager Golden Record
Voyager Golden Record
The Voyager Golden Records are phonograph records which were included aboard both Voyager spacecraft, which were launched in 1977. They contain sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth, and are intended for any intelligent extraterrestrial life form, or for...

.

Solar System




At the bottom of the plaque is a schematic diagram
Diagram
A diagram is a two-dimensional geometric symbolic representation of information according to some visualization technique. Sometimes, the technique uses a three-dimensional visualization which is then projected onto the two-dimensional surface...

 of the Solar System. A small picture of the spacecraft is shown, and the trajectory
Trajectory
A trajectory is the path that a moving object follows through space as a function of time. The object might be a projectile or a satellite, for example. It thus includes the meaning of orbit—the path of a planet, an asteroid or a comet as it travels around a central mass...

 shows its way past Jupiter
Jupiter
Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest planet within the Solar System. It is a gas giant with mass one-thousandth that of the Sun but is two and a half times the mass of all the other planets in our Solar System combined. Jupiter is classified as a gas giant along with Saturn,...

 and out of the solar system. Both Pioneers 10 and 11 have identical plaques; however, after launch, Pioneer 11 was redirected towards Saturn
Saturn
Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second largest planet in the Solar System, after Jupiter. Saturn is named after the Roman god Saturn, equated to the Greek Cronus , the Babylonian Ninurta and the Hindu Shani. Saturn's astronomical symbol represents the Roman god's sickle.Saturn,...

 and from there it exited the Solar System. In this regard the Pioneer 11 plaque is somewhat inaccurate.
The Saturn flyby of Pioneer 11 would also greatly influence its future direction and destination as compared to Pioneer 10, but this fact is not depicted in the plaques.

Saturn's rings could give a further hint to identifying the Solar System. Rings
Planetary ring
A planetary ring is a ring of cosmic dust and other small particles orbiting around a planet in a flat disc-shaped region.The most notable planetary rings known in Earth's solar system are those around Saturn, but the other three gas giants of the solar system possess ring systems of their...

 around the planets Jupiter
Jupiter
Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest planet within the Solar System. It is a gas giant with mass one-thousandth that of the Sun but is two and a half times the mass of all the other planets in our Solar System combined. Jupiter is classified as a gas giant along with Saturn,...

, Uranus
Uranus
Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun. It has the third-largest planetary radius and fourth-largest planetary mass in the Solar System. It is named after the ancient Greek deity of the sky Uranus , the father of Cronus and grandfather of Zeus...

 and Neptune
Neptune
Neptune is the eighth and farthest planet from the Sun in the Solar System. Named for the Roman god of the sea, it is the fourth-largest planet by diameter and the third largest by mass. Neptune is 17 times the mass of Earth and is slightly more massive than its near-twin Uranus, which is 15 times...

 were unknown when the plaque was designed; however, unlike Saturn the ring systems on these planets are not as easily visible and apparent as Saturn's. Pluto
Pluto
Pluto, formal designation 134340 Pluto, is the second-most-massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System and the tenth-most-massive body observed directly orbiting the Sun...

 was considered to be a planet when the plaque was designed; in 2006 the IAU
International Astronomical Union
The International Astronomical Union IAU is a collection of professional astronomers, at the Ph.D. level and beyond, active in professional research and education in astronomy...

 reclassified Pluto as a dwarf planet
Dwarf planet
A dwarf planet, as defined by the International Astronomical Union , is a celestial body orbiting the Sun that is massive enough to be spherical as a result of its own gravity but has not cleared its neighboring region of planetesimals and is not a satellite...

 and then in 2008 as a plutoid. Other large bodies classed as dwarf planets, such as Sedna
90377 Sedna
90377 Sedna is a trans-Neptunian object discovered in 2003, which was about three times as far from the Sun as Neptune. For most of its orbit it is even further from the Sun, with its aphelion estimated at 960 astronomical units , making it one of the most distant known objects in the Solar System...

, are not depicted, as they were unknown at the time the plaque was made.

The binary numbers next to the planet
Planet
A planet is a celestial body orbiting a star or stellar remnant that is massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity, is not massive enough to cause thermonuclear fusion, and has cleared its neighbouring region of planetesimals.The term planet is ancient, with ties to history, science,...

s show the relative distance to the sun. The unit is 1/10 of Mercury
Mercury (planet)
Mercury is the innermost and smallest planet in the Solar System, orbiting the Sun once every 87.969 Earth days. The orbit of Mercury has the highest eccentricity of all the Solar System planets, and it has the smallest axial tilt. It completes three rotations about its axis for every two orbits...

's orbit.

Silhouette of the spacecraft


Behind the figures of the human beings, the silhouette
Silhouette
A silhouette is the image of a person, an object or scene consisting of the outline and a basically featureless interior, with the silhouetted object usually being black. Although the art form has been popular since the mid-18th century, the term “silhouette” was seldom used until the early decades...

 of the Pioneer spacecraft is shown in the same scale
Scale (spatial)
Spatial scale provides a "shorthand" form for discussing relative lengths, areas, distances and sizes. A microclimate, for instance, is one which might occur in a mountain valley or near a lakeshore, whereas a megatrend is one which involves the whole planet....

 so that the size of the human beings can be deduced by measuring the spacecraft.

Criticism


One of the parts of the diagram that is among the easiest for humans to understand may be among the hardest for the extraterrestrial finders to understand: the arrow
Arrow
An arrow is a shafted projectile that is shot with a bow. It predates recorded history and is common to most cultures.An arrow usually consists of a shaft with an arrowhead attached to the front end, with fletchings and a nock at the other.- History:...

 showing the trajectory of Pioneer. An article in Scientific American
Scientific American
Scientific American is a popular science magazine. It is notable for its long history of presenting science monthly to an educated but not necessarily scientific public, through its careful attention to the clarity of its text as well as the quality of its specially commissioned color graphics...

criticized the use of an arrow because arrows are an artifact of hunter-gatherer societies like those on Earth; finders with a different cultural heritage may find the arrow symbol meaningless.

According to astronomer Frank Drake
Frank Drake
Frank Donald Drake PhD is an American astronomer and astrophysicist. He is most notable as one of the pioneers in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, including the founding of SETI, mounting the first observational attempts at detecting extraterrestrial communications in 1961 in Project...

, there were many negative reactions to the plaque because the human beings were displayed naked
Nudity
Nudity is the state of wearing no clothing. The wearing of clothing is exclusively a human characteristic. The amount of clothing worn depends on functional considerations and social considerations...

.

In popular culture

  • The Transformers
    Transformers
    A transformer is a device that transfers electrical energy from one circuit to another by magnetic coupling.Transformer may also refer to:* ASUS Eee Pad Transformer, an Android 3.2 Honeycomb tablet computer manufacturer by Asus...

     cartoon
    Cartoon
    A cartoon is a form of two-dimensional illustrated visual art. While the specific definition has changed over time, modern usage refers to a typically non-realistic or semi-realistic drawing or painting intended for satire, caricature, or humor, or to the artistic style of such works...

     Beast Wars
    Beast Wars
    Transformers: Beast Wars is a Transformers toyline released by Hasbro between 1995 and 2000, and a Daytime Emmy Award winning full-CG animated television series spawned by it that debuted in 1996...

     features several Golden Disks, integral to the main story arch of the cartoon. While one of them is the Voyager Space Probe version, a second Golden Disk is found being left behind by a secretive, technologically advanced alien race. Both disks contain information, and both become symbols of contact with alien races.
  • In the science fiction film Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
    Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
    Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is a 1989 American science fiction film released by Paramount Pictures. It is the fifth feature in the franchise and the penultimate to star the cast of the original Star Trek science fiction television series...

    , the plaque is shown attached to a Pioneer probe floating in space—just before the probe is intercepted and destroyed by a Klingon
    Klingon
    Klingons are a fictional warrior race in the Star Trek universe.Klingons are recurring villains in the 1960s television show Star Trek: The Original Series, and have appeared in all five spin-off series and eight feature films...

     ship. In the Star Trek novel Federation, a character mentions that humans had shown copies of the plaque to several alien races they encountered, but none had been able to decode it.
  • An episode of the science fiction series The Outer Limits
    The Outer Limits (1995 TV series)
    The Outer Limits is an American television series that originally aired on Showtime,the Sci Fi Channel and in syndication between 1995 and 2002...

    featured a deaf woman receiving alien signals through her cochlear implant
    Cochlear implant
    A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing...

    , prompting her to write out Xs, 1s, and 0s on paper. When put together, the Xs turned into the images of man and woman from the plaque, along with an extraterrestrial humanoid raising a hand in a peaceful gesture.
  • On her album United States Live
    United States Live
    United States Live was the third album release by avant-garde singer-songwriter Laurie Anderson. Released as a 5-record boxed set , the album was recorded at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City in February 1983.United States was Anderson's magnum opus performance-art piece featuring...

    , American performance artist Laurie Anderson contemplates extraterrestrials finding the plaque and asks "do you think that they will think his arm is permanently attached in this position?"
  • In an episode
    Godfellas
    "Godfellas" is the twentieth episode of the third production season of Futurama. It was first shown in North America on March 17, 2002, as the eighth episode in the fourth broadcast season. The episode was written by Ken Keeler and directed by Susie Dietter. It features Bender becoming the god of...

     of Futurama
    Futurama
    Futurama is an American animated science fiction sitcom created by Matt Groening and developed by Groening and David X. Cohen for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series follows the adventures of a late 20th-century New York City pizza delivery boy, Philip J...

    , the robot Bender finds himself doomed to drift through space, during which time he etches a modified version of the Pioneer plaque, with himself towering menacingly over the human figures, so that "When I'm found in a million years, people will know what the score was."

See also

  • Alien language
    Alien language
    Alien language is a generic term used to describe a possible language originating from a hypothetical alien species. The study of such a hypothetical language has been termed xenolinguistics, although alternative terminology such as exolinguistics has found its way into use through the medium of...

  • Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence
    Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence
    Communication with extraterrestrial intelligence is a branch of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence that focuses on composing and deciphering messages that could theoretically be understood by another technological civilization. The best-known CETI experiment was the 1974 Arecibo message...

  • Pioneer program
    Pioneer program
    The Pioneer program is a series of United States unmanned space missions that was designed for planetary exploration. There were a number of such missions in the program, but the most notable were Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11, which explored the outer planets and left the solar system...

  • Voyager Golden Record
    Voyager Golden Record
    The Voyager Golden Records are phonograph records which were included aboard both Voyager spacecraft, which were launched in 1977. They contain sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth, and are intended for any intelligent extraterrestrial life form, or for...


External links



  • Edward Tufte
    Edward Tufte
    Edward Rolf Tufte is an American statistician and professor emeritus of political science, statistics, and computer science at Yale University. He is noted for his writings on information design and as a pioneer in the field of data visualization....

    , Pioneer Space Plaque Redesign. A humorous critique of the plaque's design
  • Precision Engravers are the company that manufactured the original plaques and still hold the master diagram.