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Frank Drake

Director, Carl Sagan Center, SETI Institute

Frank Donald Drake is an American astronomer and astrophysicist. He is most notable as one of the pioneers in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and the founder of SETI.

He is currently Emeritus Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz where he also served as Dean of Natural Sciences (1984–88). He serves on the Board of Trustees of the SETI Institute.

He mounted the first observational attempts at detecting extraterrestrial communications in 1960 in Project Ozma, developing the Drake equation, and as the creator of the Arecibo Message, a digital encoding of an astronomical and biological description of the Earth and its lifeforms for transmission into the cosmos.

Drake enrolled at Cornell University on a Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship. Once there 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 USS Albany. He then went on to graduate school at Harvard in radio astronomy.

Topic Series


Is Anyone Out There? The Scientific Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

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