Could Voyager 1 Really Lead To The Destruction Of Humanity?

An artist's impressionof Voyager 1 entering interstellar space. JPL

Robin Andrews 17 Aug 2017, 13:21

We have sent four maps, each plotting a course to Earth, out into the deep dark void. You can find them on Pioneer 10 and 11 – launched in 1972 and 1973, respectively, to study the gas giants and the asteroid belt – and Voyager 1 and 2 – launched in 1977 to study the outer Solar System.

The maps, which were part of a range of anthropogenic designs, information or schematics sent into space, are specifically there for the purpose of finding the pale blue dot we call home. The rather romantic idea is that if intelligent life were to ever find them, they’d know how to come over and say hi, or at least beam a transmission our way.

Frank Drake, an American astronomer who pioneered the first modern search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) back in the 1960s – as well as a controversial equation that predicts the likelihood of alien life existing elsewhere in the universe – designed these maps.

Speaking to his daughter for National Geographic for the 40th anniversary of the Voyager probe launches, he points out that a few scientists out there are little concerned about the consequences of these cosmological cartographic creations.

“In those days, all the people I dealt with were optimists, and they thought the ETs would be friendly,” Drake says. “Nobody thought, even for a few seconds, about whether this might be a dangerous thing to do.”

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The Golden Record on Voyager 1. The pulsar map can be seen in the top right. NASA

The idea is that these maps could one day be intercepted by a hostile alien force, which could then come and destroy us, or harvest us, or engender some sort of apocalyptic event. According to some planetary researchers, we should just be listening, not sending out messages into the unknown.

So what are the odds of aliens actually finding these four spacecraft and using them to plot a course to Planet Earth? Let’s take a look.

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