RIP: Astronomer Frank Drake

Image (Credit): Photo of Frank Donald Drake. (SETI Institute)

We lost a grand mind last Friday with the death of astronomer Frank Drake at the age of 92 (1930 – 2022).

In addition to giving us the famous Drake Equation pertaining to the potential existence of extraterrestrial intelligence in our galaxy, he spent his life looking for signs that we are not alone and served as the president of the SETI Institute as well as director of the SETI Institute’s Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe. Among many other things, he also worked with Carl Sagan on the “Golden Record” placed in the Voyager spacecraft.

One thing that comes across from interviews is that he was a very hopeful man who did not tire easily. In an earlier interview with, he shared this unique view of our space neighbors:

That reminds me of something else. We have learned, in fact, that gravitational lensing works. If they [aliens] use their star as a gravitational lens, they get this free, gigantic, super-Arecibo free of charge. They are not only picking up our radio signals, but they have been seeing the bonfires of the ancient Egyptians. They can probably tell us more about ourselves than we know … they’ve been watching all these years.

You can watch Mr. Drake discuss gravitational lens and more in this earlier lecture on YouTube. You can also learn much more about Mr. Drake’s career and activities at

Image (Credit): The Voyager Golden Record cover shown with its extraterrestrial instructions. (NASA/JPL)