Frank Drake, Astronomer Famed For Contributions To Seti, Has Died

by -149 views

American astronomer (1930–2022)

Frank Drake

Drake speaking at Cornell University in 2017


Frank Donald Drake

(1930-05-28)May 28, 1930

Chicago, Illinois, U.S.

Died September two, 2022(2022-09-02)
(aged 92)

Aptos, California, U.S.

Alma mater
  • Cornell University
  • Harvard University
Known for
  • Project Ozma
  • Drake equation
  • Pioneer Plaque
  • Arecibo message
  • Voyager Golden Record
  • Elizabeth Procter Bell

    (m. 1952;
    div. 1976)

  • Amahl Shakhashiri

    (m. 1978)

Children 5, including Nadia Drake
Scientific career
Fields Astronomy, astrophysics
Institutions Academy of California, Santa Cruz, SETI
Doctoral advisor Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin[1]

Frank Donald Drake
(May 28, 1930 – September 2, 2022) was an American astronomer and astrophysicist. He was involved in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, including the founding of SETI,[ii]
mounting the beginning observational attempts at detecting extraterrestrial communications in 1960 in Projection Ozma, developing the Drake equation, and as the creator of the Arecibo Bulletin, a digital encoding of an astronomical and biological description of the Earth and its lifeforms for manual into the cosmos.

Early life and education


Born on May 28, 1930, in Chicago, Illinois,[half-dozen]
as a youth Drake loved electronics and chemistry. He reports that he considered the possibility of life existing on other planets as an 8-year-old, merely never discussed the idea with his family or teachers due to the prevalent religious ideology.

He enrolled at Cornell University on a Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship. Once in that location he began studying astronomy. His ideas about the possibility of extraterrestrial life were reinforced by a lecture from astrophysicist Otto Struve in 1951. After college, he served briefly as an electronics officer on the heavy cruiser USS
Albany. He then went on to graduate schoolhouse at Harvard to study radio astronomy, where his doctoral advisor was Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin.[i]



Although explicitly linked with modern views on the likelihood and detectability of extraterrestrial civilizations, Drake started his career undertaking radio astronomical research at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Green Banking company, West Virginia, and later at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He conducted key measurements that revealed the presence of a Jovian ionosphere and magnetosphere.

In the 1960s, Drake spearheaded the conversion of the Arecibo Observatory to a radio astronomical facility, later updated in 1974 and 1996. As a researcher, Drake was involved in the early work on pulsars. In this period, Drake was a professor at Cornell University and director of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Heart (NAIC) – the formal name for the Arecibo facility. In 1974 he wrote the Arecibo message.[seven]

He is 1 of the pioneers of the mod field of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence with Giuseppe Cocconi, Philip Morrison, Iosif Shklovsky, and Carl Sagan.

In 1972, with Carl Sagan and Linda Salzman Sagan, Drake co-designed the Pioneer plaque – the first concrete message sent into infinite.[eight]
The plaque was designed to be understandable past extraterrestrials should they encounter information technology.[8]
He later on supervised the creation of the Voyager Aureate Record.[
citation needed

He was a professor of astronomy at Cornell University (1964–1984) and served as the director of the Arecibo Observatory. Every bit of 2010, he was involved in “The Carl Sagan Center for the Written report of life in the Universe” at the SETI Institute.[nine]

He was emeritus professor of astronomy and astrophysics[10]
at the University of California at Santa Cruz where he also served equally dean of Natural Sciences (1984–1988). He served on the board of trustees of the SETI Institute.[11]

Personal life


Drake’s hobbies included lapidary and the cultivation of orchids.[12]

He had 5 children, including Nadia Drake.[
commendation needed

Drake died on September 2, 2022, at his home in Aptos, California, from natural causes at the age of 92.[13]



Drake Planetarium at Norwood High School in Norwood, Ohio, is named for Drake and linked to NASA.

Asteroid 4772 Frankdrake is named after him.

He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1974.

Drake was a member of the National Academy of Sciences where he chaired the board of physics and astronomy of the National Research Quango (1989–1992).

He also served as president of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

See also


  • Lick Observatory
  • The Uttermost, a 2017 documentary on the Voyager program
  • The Search for Life: The Drake Equation



  1. ^



    “Personal Portrait: CECILIA PAYNE”. Retrieved
    May 2,

    dead link

  2. ^

    Stone RP, Wright SA, Drake F, Muñoz M, Treffers R, Werthimer D (Oct 2005). “Lick Observatory Optical SETI: targeted search and new directions”.
    (five): 604–eleven. Bibcode:2005AsBio…5..604S. doi:10.1089/ast.2005.five.604. PMID 16225433.

  3. ^

    Drake F (1999). “Space missions for SETI”.
    Acta Astronautica.
    (two–4): 113–115. Bibcode:1999AcAau..44..113D. doi:ten.1016/S0094-5765(99)00036-three. PMID 11542286.

  4. ^

    Drake F (April 1993). “Extraterrestrial Intelligence”.
    Scientific discipline.
    (5107): 474–475. Bibcode:1993Sci…260..474D. doi:10.1126/science.260.5107.474. PMID 17830410.

  5. ^

    Sagan, Carl; Sagan, Linda Salzman; Drake, Frank (Feb 1972). “A Message from Globe”.
    Scientific discipline.
    (4024): 881–884. Bibcode:1972Sci…175..881S. doi:10.1126/science.175.4024.881. PMID 17781060.

  6. ^

    https://world wide

  7. ^

    David, Leonard (Summer 1980). “Putting Our Best Signal Frontward”.
    Cosmic Search.
    (3): 2–7. Bibcode:1980CosSe…ii….2nd.

  8. ^



    Sagan, Carl; Sagan, Linda Salzman; Drake, Frank (February 25, 1972). “A Message from Earth”.
    (4024): 881–884. Bibcode:1972Sci…175..881S. doi:10.1126/scientific discipline.175.4024.881.

  9. ^

    “SETI Institute Names New Master Alien Life Hunter”. Retrieved
    February 23,

  10. ^

    Academy of California | Lick observatory retrieved xviii:29 23 Oct 2011

  11. ^

  12. ^

    Billings, Lee (Oct three, 2013).
    V Billion Years of Solitude: The Search for Life Among the Stars
    (1st ed.). New York: Current, a member of Penguin Grouping. ISBN9781617230066.

  13. ^

    Timmer, John (September 2, 2022). “Frank Drake, astronomer famed for contributions to SETI, has died”.
    Ars Technica
    . Retrieved
    September 2,

  • “Estimating the Chances of Life Out There” – brief biography for astrobiology workshop at the NASA Ames Research Center.

External links


  • Frank Drake’s academic tree
  • Frank Drake’s 2010 article on “The Origin of the Drake Equation”
  • “Finding Aliens ‘But a Thing of Time’, Says Father of SETI”
    A Q&A with Frank Drake about his famous equation and the pregnant of SETI, from an interview in February 2010, leading up to the 50th birthday of SETI

  • “Estimating the Chances of Life Out There”
    on YouTube

    A public talk by Frank Drake in the Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Serial
  • 2012 Interview with Frank Drake looking dorsum on his career
  • 2014 Interview with Frank Drake looking at the question of Intelligent E.T. and a Infinite based Radio Telescope
  • “The Drake Equation” – Astronomy Bandage transcript (html), Fraser Cain and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville professor, Dr. Pamela Gay, Monday February 12, 2007. (Full pdf transcript)
  • Frank Drake at IMDb
  • Frank Drake discography at Discogs