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  /  Dr. Frank Drake

Dr. Frank Drake

Dr. Frank Drake is Professor Emeritus of Astronomy and Astrophysics at University of California, Santa Cruz and former President of the SETI Institute. Dr. Drake started his career undertaking radio astronomical research at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia, and later the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He conducted key measurements which 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. 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 Center – the formal name for the Arecibo facility. He is one of the pioneers of the modern field of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Drake has played a key role in composing messages sent out from Earth in the hope that one day an alien civilization will discover and read them. Drake co-designed the Pioneer plaque with Carl Sagan, the first physical message sent into space. The plaque was designed to be understandable by extraterrestrials should they encounter it. He later supervised the creation of the Voyager Golden Record. In addition to his SETI work, Drake was the first person to map the center of the Milky Way galaxy, and he coined the word ‘pulsar’ to describe rapidly rotating neutron stars. He created the Drake equation, which can be used to estimate the number of intelligent civilizations in our galaxy. He was a Professor of Astronomy at Cornell University and served as the Director of the Arecibo Observatory. He is Emeritus Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of California at Santa Cruz where he also served as Dean of Natural Sciences. He participates in an on-going search for optical signals of intelligent origin, carried out with colleagues from Lick Observatory and the University of California at Berkeley.