We Tell Martians Abraham Lincoln is God

We enjoy Abraham Lincoln as much as the next person. But when we saw the picture taken on Mars, above, by the remote operating rover Curiosity it made us smile.

The Curiosity rover was sent from Earth to Mars with a calibration chart for making sure the photographs were of proper specifications and calibration.

The location of the photo calibration target on the rover.
The location of the photo calibration target on the rover.

But let’s say aliens could figure out the english language. Hell, we can barely do that here at the Wake Forest News.

What you have is a picture of hairy faced man with the phrase In God We Trust above him. If you didn’t know anything about who the dude is someone could assume the image was of the God we trusted?

It turns out the Lincoln issue is the least of our worries. The penny to Mars is not among the stranger things we’ve sent to space. In 1977 we launched the Voyager satellite with a golden record on it. This was long before we had CDs or even Blu-Ray for that matter. If launched today it would just have an iTunes gift card.

Voyager continues to travel far out into space and has recently left our solar system. It’s like the most lost UPS driver ever. It will probably just get to some other life form and toss the record on the porch, and miss.

The record tucked into Voyager contents contain 116 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind, thunder and animals (including the songs of birds and whales). It also includes musical selections from different cultures and eras, spoken greetings in fifty-six languages (55 ancient and modern languages, plus Esperanto), and printed messages from USA president Jimmy Carter and U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim.

The collection of images includes many photographs and diagrams both in black and white and color. The first images are of scientific interest, showing mathematical and physical quantities, the Solar System and its planets, DNA, and human anatomy and reproduction. Care was taken to include not only pictures of humanity, but also some of animals, insects, plants and landscapes.

Images of humanity depict a broad range of cultures. These images show food, architecture, and humans in portraits as well as going about their day to day lives. Many pictures are annotated with one or more indications of scales of time, size, or mass. Some images contain indications of chemical composition. All measures used on the pictures are defined in the first few images using physical references that are likely to be consistent anywhere in the universe.

The musical selection is also varied, featuring artists such as Beethoven, Guan Pinghu, Mozart, Stravinsky, Blind Willie Johnson, Chuck Berry and Kesarbai Kerkar.

After NASA had received criticism over the nudity on the Pioneer plaque (line drawings of a naked man and woman), the agency chose not to allow Sagan and his colleagues to include a photograph of a nude man and woman on the record. Instead, only a silhouette of the couple was included.”

We sure were prudish back then. Probably a couple of naked pics is the least of our worries as a society.

At this point who cares if some future Martians think Lincoln is God. Apparently we’ve already set a precedent by sending Blind Willie Johnson and Kesarbai Kerkar out as cultural representatives of Earth.


The front of the golden record album cover looks like something we would have bought if Pink Floyd had released it.

The Golden Record Album Cover
The Golden Record Front
Nice Label, "The Sounds of Earth"
Nice Label, “The Sounds of Earth”

Frankly if we wanted to scare people away from our little blue planet we should just include this real commercial for PooPourri on the next launch.

We were going to say “you can’t make this shit up,” but apparently we clearly can. The sad part is it is all true.

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