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Jimmy Carter: the President who wrote to extraterrestrials

Montage Sciencepost / Credits: Kevin Dooley on Flickr; Wikipedia

Forty years ago, American President Jimmy Carter wrote a letter to any potential extraterrestrial civilisation that may be discovered by the space probe Voyager 1 after it was launched. 

President Ronald Reagan, the successor to Jimmy Carter, took a huge interest in UFOs and extraterrestrials. However, Carter was the only US President to have claimed to have seen a UFO. Although he didn’t have the same level of interest as Reagan, he still wrote a letter to extraterrestrials!

Voyager 1 was sent into space on the 5th September 1977. In 40,000 years, it should approach another planetary system, but we won’t be able to check this directly, as the probe won’t be able to transmit any more data after 2025. Extremely advanced for its time, the Voyager 1 probe also symbolically carries a record of the various manifestations of humanity.

Although the Voyager programme was always intended to provide various scientific data, the probe in fact acts almost like a message in a bottle. Besides the information regarding humanity that Voyager 1 contains, there is also a letter from the American President of the time, Jimmy Carter. The head of state wrote this missive on the 15th June 1977, less than three months before the launch.

Although Voyager 2 has just left our solar system, Voyager 1, headed in the opposite direction, also left our solar system in 2012. This was a major first for man made objects. Furthermore, it is now more interesting than ever to review the contents of what was put on the probes, intended to send the history of our world to extraterrestrials.

Over forty years after its launch, Voyager 1 still contains Jimmy Carter’s letter. It briefly introduces the probe and the Earth, and then indicates that the message was sent into space in order to remain readable for a billion years, over which time humanity and the Earth will clearly evolve.

The following was addressed directly to possible extraterrestrials (original document):

Credits: NASA

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