On July 6 2023, an Imgur account shared a meme which referenced “unsolicited nude pics” sent by humans into space:
The meme had two parts, including a simple line drawing of two naked humans at the bottom. Text appended to the top of the meme read:
“Humans! Please don’t send us any more unsolicited nude pics with instructions on how to get to your house. It’s creepy. Sincerely, The Aliens”
One commenter posited that the reason aliens haven’t made contact “is because humanity sent them unsolicited nudes, and now we’re all canceled.” In response, someone added “and a mixtape.”
Our reverse image search using Google Lens several returned versions of the same meme and text, including a tweet from March 2018:
In the first tweet, a screenshot of a Tumblr post by u/just-shower-thoughts appeared. It featured the same image, and its text read:
maybe aliens don’t talk to us because we’re creepy. i mean we send them weird mix tapes and we keep trying to find out where they live
And we sent them some unsolicited nudes with directions to our house
A May 2018 post to Reddit’s r/funny was similar (but didn’t mention mix tapes). That version credited NASA with having “sent nudes” into space:
Reverse image search also matched the image with a Wikimedia Commons page, identifying it as “The Pioneer Plaque.” Brittanica.com mentioned “The Pioneer Plaque” on an entry titled “Pioneer space probes,” which explained:
Pioneer, any of the first series of unmanned U.S. space probes designed chiefly for interplanetary study. Whereas the first five Pioneers (0–4, launched from 1958 to 1959) were intended to explore the vicinity of the Moon, all other probes in the series were sent to investigate planetary bodies or to measure various interplanetary-particle and magnetic-field effects … Pioneers 10 and 11 each carried a gold plaque inscribed with a pictorial message in the event that extraterrestrial beings ever found the spacecraft.
On a NASA subdomain (solarsystem.nasa.gov), The Pioneer Plaque was described as follows:
Published: February 13, 2018
Pioneers 10 and 11 both carried small metal plaques identifying their time and place of origin for the benefit of any other spacefarers that might find them in the distant future.
The golden plaque was the brainchild of Carl Sagan who wanted any alien civilization who might encounter the craft to know who made it and how to contact them.
It gives our location in the Galaxy and depicts a naked man and woman drawn in relation to the spacecraft.
Pioneer 10 is heading towards the star Aldebaran in the Taurus constellation and will take more than two million years to reach it. Pioneer 11 is headed toward the constellation of Aquila (The Eagle), Northwest of the constellation of Sagittarius. Pioneer 11 will pass near one of the stars in the constellation in about 4 million years.
The Voyager Golden Records are two identical phonograph records one of each which were included aboard the two Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977. The records contain sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth, and are intended for any intelligent extraterrestrial life form who may find them. The records are a time capsule.
[Astrophysicist and science communicator] Carl Sagan noted that “The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced space-faring civilizations in interstellar space, but the launching of this ‘bottle’ into the cosmic ‘ocean’ says something very hopeful about life on this planet.”
A “Contents” section detailed what was on the Voyager Golden Record, and how it was selected. Not unlike a mix tape, its contents were carefully curated to impress a putative listener:
The contents of the record were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan of Cornell University. The selection of content for the record took almost a year. Sagan and his associates assembled 116 images (one used for calibration) and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind, thunder and animals (including the songs of birds and whales). To this they added audio content to represent humanity: spoken greetings in 55 ancient and modern languages, including a spoken greeting in English by U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim and a greeting by Sagan’s six-year-old son, Nick; other human sounds, like footsteps and laughter (Sagan’s); the inspirational message Per aspera ad astra in Morse code; and musical selections from different cultures and eras. The record also includes a printed message from U.S. president Jimmy Carter.
The musical selection is also varied, featuring works by composers such as J.S. Bach (interpreted by Glenn Gould), Mozart, Beethoven (played by the Budapest String Quartet), and Stravinsky. The disc also includes music by Guan Pinghu, Blind Willie Johnson, Chuck Berry, Kesarbai Kerkar, Valya Balkanska, and electronic composer Laurie Spiegel, as well as Azerbaijani folk music (Mugham) by oboe player Kamil Jalilov. The inclusion of Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” was controversial, with some claiming that rock music was “adolescent”, to which Sagan replied, “There are a lot of adolescents on the planet.” The selection of music for the record was completed by a team composed of Carl Sagan as project director, Linda Salzman Sagan, Frank Drake, Alan Lomax, Ann Druyan as creative director, artist Jon Lomberg, ethnomusicologist Robert E. Brown, Timothy Ferris as producer, and Jimmy Iovine as sound engineer. It also included the sounds of humpbacked whales from the 1970 album by Roger Payne, Songs of the Humpback Whale.
On July 6 2023, a long circulating meme about humans having sent “nude pics” (and sometimes “a mix tape”) was shared to Imgur. The meme referenced The Pioneer Plaque, a golden plaque replicated on the meme and launched into space in the early 1970s. In addition to the plaque, NASA formed a committee to select sounds for the Voyager Golden Record, a “mix tape” included in a 1977 mission.