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Guest Editorial

Pioneer Plaque Immortality
by Nick Sagan

A BBC reporter recently interviewed me for a program they're doing about the Pioneer Plaque, which provided me the happy opportunity to reflect on my mom and how her art might be remembered:

Pioneer Plaque

I'm thrilled, quite honestly. To know that your mother's artwork is out there perpetually voyaging, just waiting for a prospective extraterrestrial to come along and discover it is a surreal but strangely satisfying feeling. Long after you and I are gone, that iconic man and woman will still be around with hand raised in greeting. It's a fantastic kind of immortality. For my mom, specifically, in the sense that her art will live on long after her, but also for the human race as a whole.

Whatever foolishness we may do, there is a record of us. A representation. Who we are, what we look like, where we come from. It's possible that the Pioneer Plaque will some disastrous day become one of the few relics of our now mighty civilization, but hopefully years from now when we're still going strong, our descendants will look fondly back at space missions like Pioneer and Voyager and appreciate them for carrying humanity's optimism.

The Plaque says a lot about us, not only to potential aliens, but to ourselves - it lives on as a commemoration of what drives us to reach out to others, a commemoration of our hope of encountering life beyond the confines of our beautiful blue-green world as we take our first fledgling steps into the vast cosmic dark.

Note: Reproduced by permission from the Nick Sagan Online blog, at

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in editorials are those of the individual authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of The SETI League, Inc., its Trustees, officers, Advisory Board, members, donors, or commercial sponsors.

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