Talk:Pioneer plaque

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Nitpick on "spacecrafts"[edit]

"Spacecraft" is the plural and singular form. NASA doesn't use "spacecrafts." See also here and here. Mr. Billion 18:39, 1 May 2005 (UTC)


The fact that the man is the one doing the greeting on behalf of the woman and the rest of humanity was criticized as sexist by feminist groups. A similar image subsequently encoded on the Voyager Golden Record showed the woman giving the greeting.

According to the Voyager Golden Record article there is no such similar image. I propose to delete the paragraph above. --Etimbo | Talk 23:10, 26 May 2005 (UTC)

I second that. I spent some time trying to figure out what that could possibly mean. All I could come up with is that maybe one of the images encoded on the record depicted a "woman giving the greeting". It seems unlikely that this is what was meant, though. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any information readily available on what the 115 images on the record were. HorsePunchKid 00:11, 2005 May 27 (UTC)
No-one else objected, so I have deleted this paragraph. --Etimbo | Talk 15:29, 16 Jun 2005 (UTC)
The sexism comment should be kept though, even if there is no similar image. However, the person who included the sexism comment only had a recollection from a documentary. Also a Google search wouldn't help me find a reference.--Philosophistry 12:58, 31 July 2005 (UTC)
If there's no such image, doesn't that entirely remove the basis for claiming that it's sexist? If there are other allegedly sexist images on the plaque, perhaps a similar comment could be put back in, but I, too, have looked online, and can't find anything to support that. —HorsePunchKid 19:59, 31 July 2005 (UTC)
It's been a while, but I just wanted to say, the picture you seem to be talking about can be found at Just start the flash feature "Celebrating 25 Years of Discovery", enter the site, choose photos and move the mouse cursor over the second picture from the right of the bottom row... Carpediem007 01:10, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
Not only can the picture be seen, but it is documented by its creator Jon Lomberg to have been intentionally the same couple as on the Pioneer Plaque, with the woman waving. See "Murmurs of Earth" (Sagan et al, 1978, page 100) where Jon Lomberg says "In the interest of fairness, we show the couple again, and this time it is the woman whose arm is raised in cosmic greeting. Pace [peace], feminists." The original deleted paragraph is exactly correct. (Rick314 18:15, 27 October 2007 (UTC))

There is no support for the statement that "none of the scientists that were shown the message were able to decode all of it." The reference/link is to some guy's blog, and there is no discussion of the point on that page. Telliott 12:05, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

I believe that the author of that statement might be confusing the plaque with a SETI experiment where many head SETI scientists were given a "message" that was an example of what extraterrestrial communication might be like and none could figure out what it was based upon. Its "language" was based on the makeup of the hydrogen atom, arguably the most universal thing to base it on. I'd be hard pressed to find a scientist that hadn't heard of the plaques or seen them... Heck.. I'd be hard pressed to find someone with a vague understanding of science that didn't understand the plate. In any case.. The cite sucks. Cs302b (talk) 11:38, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

"The Voyager Golden Record, a much more complex and detailed message using (then) state-of-the-art media, was attached to the Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977."

You expect the extraterrestrials to have DVD players? Yes, it was state of the art at the time, but the concept is nearly universal. You could put diagrams on a record showing how to use them (see what L. Ron Hubbard's followers are doing in underground vaults). You can't do so much with digital media. While state of the art at the time we'd do the same thing again if we were to try to send another similar probe into deep space. Cs302b (talk) 11:38, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

The place to find the written criticism of the plaque is the Los Angeles Times editorial page, Letters to the Editor. The cartoonist Paul Conrad did a very nice satire on those letters with a man in a full business suit and fully dressed woman commenting that "Humans look just like us but not clothed." Have fun searching. (talk) 22:53, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

Which timeframe is correct?[edit]

According to this article, the length of time it will take Pioneer 10 to come within 30 astronomical units of a star is longer than the current age of the galaxy. But according to the main article for Pioneer 10, it will take 2 million years to reach Aldebaran. The galaxy is a lot more than 2 million years old, so which statement is correct, and does anyone have a good original source for this info?

I can't give you anything definitive, but the "2 million years" clearly comes from this NASA article, "Aldebaran is about 68 light years away and it will take Pioneer over 2 million years to reach it." The age of the galaxy is believed[1] to be somewhere between 6 and 12 billion years old. My bet would be that this article is wrong in its estimate or that NASA actually meant two billion years, which seems unlikely. A quick calculation suggests NASA's right. —HorsePunchKid 20:18, July 18, 2005 (UTC)
Actually, I think what this article is suggesting is that if Pioneer 10 were travelling in a random direction out into the galaxy from here, it would take billions of years for it to happen to come within 30 AU of a random star. Very counterfactual, since it is actually known to be heading toward Aldebaran, though maybe it won't come within 30 AU of Aldebaran. —HorsePunchKid 20:22, July 18, 2005 (UTC)

NASA(Ames Center) did put out a publication I will try and find a 10 will come just under a light year of aldebaran a far flyby! space is mostley very very empty so an encounter with anything but dust is most unlikely(infocat13). perhaps in the next several hundred million years the chance of incountering some star systems ort cloud would be more likely.--Infocat13 22:53, 24 January 2007 (UTC)

Human Features[edit]

I seem to recall reading (or maybe Carl Sagan mentioned it on TV) at the time, that there was a conscious effort to blend all human racial features together, so that the humans represented would more accurately portray a typical human or at least an average. I also think that heights were averaged as well. Does anyone know anything about this, and how it was done? The man and woman as depicted do not seem to appear particularly African, Asian, or European. At the time, I believe this was controversial on two counts. First, assigning such features was seen as racist. And second, the so-called typical human ends up looking UNlike most humans. The typical human of the time would most probably be asian, if one goes entirely by share of the total population. Anyone recall this? Thanks. Jimaginator 16:08, 20 October 2005 (UTC)

I recall it was said that Linda Sagan included features of all the major races in her illustration, yet most of those who complained about the illustration thought the figures most resembled their own race. GUllman 00:52, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
I searched for this on the web, but cannot find anything. In the meantime I have recalled for sure, that it was in a Sagan book not on TV, but cannot recall which title. The book went into considerable detail about how the plaque image was created etc. Anybody remember this? Jimaginator 16:35, 18 January 2006 (UTC)
Carl Sagan and Linda Sagan tried to make the figures appear panracial by incorporating features from "three of the major races of mankind", (Sagan, 2009, pp. 25, para. 1). Both the man and the woman were given Caucasian features, but the woman was additionally given Asian features and the man was additionally given African features, (Sagan, 2009, pp. 25, para. 1). They added epicanthic folds to the woman, and they also gave her other Asian physical features which they did not specify, (Sagan, 2009, pp. 25, para. 1). They made the man have thick lips, a broad nose and an "Afro" haircut which was later changed to a "very non-African Mediterranean-curly haircut" in the finished engraving, (Sagan, 2009, pp. 25, para. 1). Carl Sagan said that both figures in the finished engraving looked blonde to many viewers due to only having their hair outlined rather than being both outlined and shaded, (Sagan, 2009, pp. 25, para. 1; Spangenburg & Moser, 2004, pp. 74, top). Despite the man's non-African hairstyle and the apparent blonde hair of both figures, Carl Sagan said that the figures in the finished engraving are "representative" of the "races of mankind" to a "significant degree", (Sagan, 2009, pp. 25, para. 1).
@GUllman and Jimaginator: I added a paragraph talking about the panracial features which were intended to be portrayed by the depiction of the man and woman figures in the Pioneer plaque. I added the paragraph in this edit (diff). The paragraph I added in that edit is included above in a box for easier viewing, but the actual paragraph I added to main page looked slightly different, because the citations I added to it were done in the <ref></ref> Wikipedia style. User:David J Johnson reverted the addition of the paragraph in this edit (diff) with the edit summary, "This should be on Talk page and not in article". Following David J Johnson's suggestion, I have come to the article's talk page to discuss the inclusion of this paragraph into the article.--Ephert (talk) 12:53, 23 August 2015 (UTC)
This story is related in the book Murmurs of Earth: The Voyager Interstellar Record by Frank Drake. GUllman 04:43, 24 January 2006 (UTC)
The Sagan book that talks about the plaque was The Dragons of Eden; a drawing of the plaque appears on page 235. Rpresser 20:28, 15 March 2006 (UTC)
"The figures appear to be white and Occidental." They look Indonesian or Filipino to me. (talk) 15:54, 6 August 2012 (UTC)

Will extraterrestrials understand that the man has had a shave and a haircut? Wetman 00:59, 14 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I second this. What a terrible oversight.. Regardless of the problems with their race, these are bizarre hairless versions of humans..
I once read a critique of the plaque that said a concious discision was made not to potray the natural crease around the vulva in the woman. Descendall 08:47, 28 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Since the majority of men around the world do shave, I see no scandal in the plaque representation of men. --Gspinoza 20:40, 15 March 2007 (UTC)
But doesn't the majority of us wear clothes almost all the time? And a comment to shaving: what about shaving between the legs? I think it is very common today, but 1972??? And finally: From my understanding, it's the only part of the image that can't be read upside-down or rotated 90°. I I'd have made this, I'd have simply left it away. If this thing is found in a million years, humans will look different anyway.--TeakHoken89.14.9.161 (talk) 13:36, 9 November 2008 (UTC)
Now a decade later, not showing the genital cleft of the woman could be seen as an act of neutering her, which no longer agrees with the spirit of the times, -- and neither with the Sumerian cuneiform glyph for "woman." (A similar remark could be made about the male -- compare with classic Ionian vase paintings of male nudity for how it can be done.) hgwb (talk) 08:45, 2 April 2017 (UTC)
And how will they interpret the hair parting, particularly the more defined one on the female's head, as a vulva? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:14, 7 May 2013 (UTC)

Not Left Yet[edit]

It says the Pioneer probes left the Solar System in the 1980s. In actual fact niether probe has yet done so. The only human built spacecraft currently beyond the solar system is Voyager 1. User:Tom walker 19 January 2006

What is the definition of the end of the Solar System? Does it have something to do with detectable particles from the Sun? If so, then the resolution of the detector is the factor. And, of course photons from the Sun would be detectable across the galaxy. Is it based upon some arbitrary distance from the Sun? Wouldn't the radiation of all types from different solar systems really just blend together, for example, Proxima's and our own? Jimaginator 21:06, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

It has to do with the interaction of the solar wind and the interstellar medium. Also see the articles bow shock and termination shock. Rpresser 22:40, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

Thanks. Jimaginator 18:52, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

Taken from Wikipedia article termination shock - Evidence presented at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in May 2005 by Dr. Ed Stone suggests that the Voyager 1 spacecraft passed termination shock in December 2004, when it was about 94 AU from the sun, by virtue of the change in magnetic readings taken from the craft. In contrast, Voyager 2 began detecting returning particles when it was only 76 AU from the sun, in May 2006. This implies that the heliosphere may be irregularly shaped, bulging outwards in the sun's northern hemisphere and pushed inward in the south.[2]. From that i would infer that the end of the solar system would be either the edge of the suns heliosphere or the point of termination shock Whichever it is, both Voyager spacecraft are well out of our reach. As a side point, as a primary school student in Melbourne australia waaaaaaaaaay back in the early nineties, my school was lucky enough to get to go on camp to Canberra where we visited the Tidbinbilla tracking station. At that stage, if i remember correctly one or the other of the voyagers had only just past Pluto. Tidbinbilla was damn fascinating, ill have to go back up there again one day..... happy Wiki'ing --Squad'nLeedah 00:02, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

Voyager article states "As of 2006, the Voyager spacecraft will be the third and fourth human artifacts to escape entirely from the solar system. Pioneers 10 and 11, which were launched in 1972 and 1973 and preceded Voyager in outstripping the gravitational attraction of the Sun". It suggests in this article that gravitational attraction is the measure of being in the solar system. This seems a sensible measure to me and something readily understandable to the layperson. Suggest use of this measure in both articles. - PocklingtonDan 09:28, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
It doesn't really mean anything, though, since everything in the universe is gravitationally attracted to the Sun. There's no point where it drops to zero. Harksaw 21:16, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
The phrasing "outstripping the gravitational attraction of the Sun" is meant to signify that these artifacts are the only ones created by man which are not gravitationally bound to the Sun: i.e., they are in a hyperbolic orbit, and will never return to the Sun's vicinity. This is not a sensible measure for "leaving the solar system", since they had the necessary velocity immediately after leaving the vicinity of Saturn (or perhaps Jupiter). (The unfortunate phrasing originally derived from NASA's page about Voyager. --Rpresser 22:08, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

Could the corner break off?[edit]

One point. Is the hydrogen atom critical to the "understanding" of this plaque, because if it is, it's on the corner and so could easily get broken off in space. Hhhm, maybe I'm just imaginary an alien civilisation wondering what the hell is it, and looking at a plaque with a torn-off hydrogen atom... :P

It's not quite on the corner. Other symbols go higher and further to the left than it. Anyway, it's probably not going to break off if NASA expects it to outlast our sun and earth. Brianjd 14:12, 2005 Jan 29 (UTC)

Lol, it would be hilarious. They only expect it to out last the sun and earth because of it's trjectory. An alien race involved in an intergalatic war could spot it next week and blow it into smitherins tearing the space-time continume which consumes the universe destroying Earth only mintues after destroying the probe :O wolfie 08:20, 20 May 2006 (UTC) PS: I'm not a trekker and yes I have the tiniest shred of a clue about what a space time continium is...

Well.. Your spelling lets us all know how intelligent you are.. And why, exactly, would shooting a dead spacecraft to "smitherins" cause the Universe to be destroyed? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Cs302b (talkcontribs) 05:57, 25 February 2008 (UTC)

Very large PNG image[edit]

Should this very large PNG image be replaced by an SVG? I have used Inkscape to do the tracing and it came out rather well. Rpresser 20:38, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

After a week, nobody has commented. I'm uploading the SVG and replacing the image. Rpresser 15:02, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

If you considered my 75 KB 1600x1200 PNG version to be "very large", then why did you replace it with your 209 KB 1600x1200 SVG version? I reverted the image back to the PNG version since it seems that when you did the conversion, detail was lost. Feel free replace it with the SVG version if you upload an SVG version without any loss of detail. —MementoVivere (talk · contribs) 08:54, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
Oh shit. While trying to investigate what you said, I think I further screwed up the PNG file by reverting it to Godm0de's version. I'm recusing myself from any further image work, ever. Please accept my humble apologies and fix your file. Rpresser 15:24, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
OK, I un-reverted my revert; the 75K version is now active. My installation of Firefox acts weird with it though, when I view the :Image page, it is blank. I won't do anything else though. Rpresser 15:37, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

Would anyone else like to see a 'corrected' version of this image? Specifically, the binary digits to the right of the woman have a blemish that breaks the first '0' into two smaller marks. I have an EPS (hand-traced) that corrects this flaw. JGarry (talk) 19:15, 20 April 2012 (UTC)

Important things not included in the article[edit]

I see in the earlier discussions here about the issues of Sexism and Racism that they have either been removed or were never in the article, this is quite stupid. It is a well-known fact that many feminists at the time (and perhaps still now) accused the Plaque of being Sexist for having the Man doing the greeting and the Woman simply standing there submissively. This has to be mentioned in the article, it is well documented.
Secondly again it is know that certain accusations were levelled against the plaque for apparently showing the Humans as White people. Whether they are or not I don't know, but I do know the accusation has been made, and this must also been in the article.
--Hibernian 03:56, 12 July 2006 (UTC)
@Hibernian: I added paragraphs in the criticism section that discuss the accusations of racism and sexism surrounding the depiction of the figures of the finished engraving.--Ephert (talk) 11:47, 23 August 2015 (UTC)

Plaque recall?[edit]

Oh great, now with the redefinition of what a planet is, eliminating Pluto as a planet and leaving us with 8 planets, we're gonna have to get that plaque back and etch Pluto off there. After all, we don't want the aliens to think that we humans at one point actually considered Pluto a planet! Or, worse yet, they'll think the plaque came from another solar system just like ours, but with 9 clearly defined planets, and give the people from planet #3 the credit for creating that plaque that humanity so rightly deserves! I hope NASA is mounting a recovery mission as we speak!--Canuckguy 21:26, 25 August 2006 (UTC) (The preceding was meant as humour and not to be taken internally.)

While theyre at it, they'd better appease the feminists and antiracists, make them multicoloured, make the female greet.... oh, and better add another male next to the male, and a woman next to the woman (to appease the homosexuals), oh, and perhaps a turban to appease the muslims, they look too christian... or catholic... or protestant, i cant tell, but its not a picture of me so im offended. Squad'nLeedah 23:03, 1 November 2006 (UTC) (Yes, im taking a dig at all that want to try and include every "controversy" that existed over this, you cant make everyone happy all the time. get over it people :P )

I seriously do not think that any alien lifeform that looks at the plaque (they may simply see an object with nothing on it, who knows) would care about any racial, religious, or cultural differences in which we seem to place a lot of value. They may not even be able to tell a man from a woman, not to mention two people of different racial groups (we could be just blobs of heat to them or sound echoes without definite shapes). Chronolegion 12:26, 16 March 2007 (UTC)
Regarding "make the female greet", they did. Image #52 on the Voyager Golden Record shows ETs we all believe the theory of evolution (wrong) with simpler lifeforms at the bottom and a man/woman at the top. The man and woman are the same couple as are on the Pioneer Plaque, and the woman is waving instead of the man. In "Murmurs of Earth" (Sagan et al, 1978, page 100) Jon Lomberg says "In the interest of fairness, we show the couple again, and this time it is the woman whose arm is raised in cosmic greeting." (Rick314 18:04, 27 October 2007 (UTC))

Featured Picture?[edit]

Shouldn't the featured picture (the actual plaque, not the illustration) be the main picture? --MosheA 01:41, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

  • "...just as deciphering the Egyptian hieroglyphs took centuries." No. Deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics took a bilingual key and two decades. --Wetman 02:12, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

"The mean time for the spacecraft to come within 30 astronomical units of a star is longer than the current age of our galaxy."[edit]

The sentence above is a bit ambigious. I'm not sure whether the sentence is saying it will never reach another planet before the galaxy dies or that it will, but it will take a long time. Also what is the talk of "mean time". Is its path not known? Is it not known which star it will reach first? If not, why? As a lay reader, this makes no sense. It should be changed to something like (obviously changed by someone with subject knowledge) "The spacecraft has been travelling for 20 years. Although it is not known which star it will first meet (due to galactic rotation) the mean time of travel for the spacecraft to come within 30 astronomical units of a star is 330,000,000 years. This is longer than the current age of the galaxy. The galaxy would be dead/very old/still young at this point". Thanks - PocklingtonDan 09:17, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

Additionally, the article on Voyager states that "The Voyager spacecraft will take about 40,000 years to come near another star", definiing near as 1.7 light years. 1.7 light years and 30 AU are vastly different scale distances, why is one used in one article and another in the next. Someone should standardise the comparison across these two articles. Near should be defined as "readily detectable with telescope by an advanced civilisation" or similar, since passing near by to an inhabited system but with no alien detecting it is of no worth at all. - PocklingtonDan 09:26, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
The chance it will be found by another civilisation is zero, because it will be destroyed by high-energy cosmic radiation long before. (talk) 08:08, 29 October 2008 (UTC)

Query on Z coordinate[edit]

Regarding the 14 pulsars, the article says: "A tick mark at the end of each line gives the Z coordinate perpendicular to the galactic plane." What does this mean? Llajwa 00:13, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

In summary, the pulsar map indicates angle from the galactic plane to the pulsar, with range 0 to 45 degrees. 45 to 90 degrees is physically possible but can't be indicated using the technique used on the plaque. There is no sign to indicate which side of the galactic plane the pulsar is on. The tick marks are very misleading. Details follow.
"A Message From Earth" by Sagan, Sagan, and Drake (issue 175 of Science Magazine, March 1972, page 188, 4 pages) is at Sagan explains on page 3, right column, about the tick marks. But several things still aren't clear. I think this works -- If a = distance from tick mark to end of the pulsar distance line, and b = distance from the pulsar map center to the end of the pulsar distance line, the magnitude of theta (from galactic plane to pulsar) = arctan(a/b). The sign of the angle is not determinable because (read Sagan's text carefully) somebody goofed. Sagan says the tick marks are supposed to be "asymmetric about the radial distance lines" to indicate angle sign, but aren't. I interpret this to mean they should have been slanted one way or the other instead of at right angles, or slightly longer on one side of the radial line than the other. He then downplays the need to know the angle anyway.
See, Table 3, column "b(<degrees>)". It contains the angles being indicated by the tick marks. For angle up/down from the galactic plane to be given, one would expect it to have range +/- 90 degrees. Sagan's technique is limited to only +/- 45 degrees (assuming an "asymmetric tick mark" was used to correctly indicate +/- sense). When the tick of a long radial line is right near the center of the diagram, arctan(1) = 45 degrees. It turns out all the pulsars chosen are within 45 degrees of the galactic plane, so it works, but it wouldn't work in general. Radial lines for pulsars that were 45 to 90 degrees from the galactic plane would have their tick marks on the other side of the origin (a > b).
Another problem is that the gaps near the origin of most of the radial lines are supposed to indicate those radial distances are very approximate. (This wasn't clear to me...) But those same very approximate distances are supposed to be used as "b" of the arctan(a/b) formula to determine the very accurately known angle relative to the galactic plane. So the length of a single radial line with a gap is very approximate in one case (distance to pulsar) and to be trusted as accurate for another (in arctan(a/b), to find angle relative to the galactic plane).
Also, I was surprised that even though this misleading method (0 to 45 degree range instead of +/- 90 degree range) was realized in 1972, it was repeated on the 1977 Voyager golden record cover. (Rick314 07:02, 27 October 2007 (UTC))

Fair use rationale for File:Shlomo-Artzi-Moon.jpg[edit]

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-Andrew c [talk] 14:34, 11 March 2009 (UTC)


It's ridiculous how the NASA used a so posh hairstyle with the guy's picture. The woman looks more universal, less ethnocentric. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:44, 28 April 2009 (UTC)

Crimea? Armenia![edit]

I tried to find a reference for this "conference in Crimea", without success. There was, however, a conference on "Communication with extraterrestrial intelligence" in September 1971 which was held in Yerevan, Armenia, for which Sagan edited the proceedings and contributed a number of talks. I suspect that this is the conference that is refered to in the history section, not one "in" Crimea. --Wrongfilter (talk) 17:57, 20 October 2009 (UTC)


Is the trajectory of both craft similar enough so one plaque is identical to the other, or is there a slight difference in the plaques? (talk) 01:38, 31 July 2010 (UTC)

First Contact???[edit]

Er, did Sagan or anyone at NASA consider what the consequences might be if the finders of such material weren't upholding Gene Roddenberry's vision of galactic goodwill? I mean if Earth's own natural environments are anything to go by, I can only conclude there is no reason not to assume that nature in space is pretty much different. Things evolve to either prey on other things or to avoid being the prey of other things. What happens if this plaque falls into the "wrong hands"? We are after all made out of the same fleshy substance that makes cows and pigs so damn tasty! This article concerns itself with all the wonderful nuances and inner charm this plaque might bring to an alien species but were any dangers also factored into these discussions?

Of course they didn't!! But it makes a good point I never thought about it before but including us on the discs could be used as a map/menu by any lifeform that had little or no compassion/understanding for the human species. Our world is certainly a dog-eat-dog place so it does beg the question what would happen if ET turned out to be meat-hungry monster? (talk) 19:45, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
You are greatly underestimating how long it would take the voyager to reach alien civilization. By that point humanity is likely to be A) Extinct or B) So technologically advanced that we could catch up to the voyager and bring it back to Earth for safekeeping in a museum. (talk) 03:27, 25 November 2015 (UTC)

Binary Code[edit]

This might seem like a stupid question (since I'm not good at maths and codes) but the most important thing I don't understand about the used binary code is this: I know from the wikipedia entry that 0 is expressed as - , 1 as I and that 8 is for example expressed as I---; But apart from whole numbers, how are decimals or powers expressed? I guess they have to be used because else large numbers would have a very long code, right?

Apart from that I'm not even really sure how whole numbers work out; For example: is - , I , I- , II , I-- = 0 , 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 ? What then are 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 expressed like; respectively: what (if anything) do I- and -I represent?

I guess since most people don't know that stuff any better, it might actually be very informative to add a short section on how exactly that encoding system works out in practice! This is the single most important issue on how to improve this otherwise very good entry that is apparent to me.

Plus: If anybody would be so nice to do that, please don't forget to add the same in the entry on the Voyager Plaque (which uses the same code)! (talk) 21:11, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

Error in distance of Uranus?[edit]

I believe that there is a small error in the distance of Uranus as indicated on the plaque: Uranus: 111101111 binary = 495 decimal * 0,4 AU * 0,1 = 19,8 AU, but states that the distance of Uranus is 19.6 AU, which should give a value of about 510 decimal = 111111110.

The other distances check out nicely. Supermagle (talk) 12:10, 20 September 2010 (UTC) gives a mean AU of 19.2 for Uranus,[2] but it's not clear from the article whether the relative distances are mean distances, maximum distances, or the distances when the plaque was designed (19.8 AU is close to Uranus' maximum distance from the sun). Quickly checking the figures for Saturn suggests that the plaque lists the maximum AU rather than the mean AU, but I'm not an expert. -Ashley Pomeroy (talk) 17:04, 27 December 2010 (UTC)

Simplifying the message[edit]

I was on the BBC site which has an incredibly easy to understand take on this plaque - IMHO this is very easy to understand when compared to the current wiki article (although granted the article gives much more detail into elements making up the maths of the message). Would be grand if the article could adopt a similar point-by-point description. Just a thought. And before some clever dick says "Why don't you do it, then" this isn't my area of expertise, hence posting here for others to feedback. Londonclanger (talk) 13:56, 22 November 2010 (UTC)

To be honest I'm not sure the way it is represented in that BBC article is any clearer than on Wikipedia, just (as you note) less detailed. I strongly favour keeping the current detailed descriptions but a short summary at the beginning of the symbolism section couldn't hurt I suppose. ChiZeroOne (talk) 23:40, 22 November 2010 (UTC)

the Stupid Pluto planet vs dwarf planet thing[edit]

  • Pluto was considered to be a planet when the plaque was designed; in 2006 the IAU reclassified Pluto as a dwarf planet and then in 2008 as a plutoid. Other large bodies classed as dwarf planets, such as Sedna, are not depicted, as they were unknown at the time the plaque was made.
  • this appears in this article and in other similar articles like the Arrecibo message. It sounds really stupid. Just think you are an alien and you know the Solar System... What matters to you if a bunch of lunatic astronomers think Pluto is a dwarf planet or not? it is just a definition and worse it is mostly irrelevant. The issue with these messages, is that they added Pluto but not Eris or other similar-sized worlds in the Kuiper belt. The reasons are they did not knew those worlds existed out there back then. If Astronomers call it dwarf planet or not it is irrelevant for the article. -Pedro (talk) 18:49, 8 April 2012 (UTC)

Plaque on both spacecraft?[edit]

I read the source cited that both pioneer 10 and 11 carry the plaque, it only refers to pioneer 10 carrying it. Should this be corrected? does someone have a source otherwise? Isador1500 (talk) 23:44, 12 December 2017 (UTC)