National Space Society to Present Space Pioneer Award to SETI Astronomer Frank Drake

Frank Drake

Dr. Frank Drake is the winner of the National Space Society’s 2018 Space Pioneer Award for Science and Engineering. This award honors the work he has done as a professional astronomer, especially as a radio astronomer, technical advisor for the Golden Record on the Voyager mission, and as a leader in the science-based Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) community.

NSS invites the public to come meet, interact and learn from the awardees and attend their award ceremonies. NSS will present the Space Pioneer Award to Dr. Drake at our annual conference, the 37th International Space Development Conference (ISDC®) to be held in Los Angeles, California, at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel at LAX. The Conference will run from May 24-27, 2018.

About Dr. Frank Drake

Dr. Frank Drake has a huge array of accomplishments, which includes his work at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, JPL, Cornell University, the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (Arecibo), the National Research Council, the University of California at Santa Cruz and other institutions. He was among a group that pushed for the conversion of Arecibo into one of the world’s top and most unique radio astronomy facilities, and served as its director from 1966-1968.

He is a leader in the SETI field, which has now existed for over 55 years and with the SETI institute, which has existed for over 30 years. He pioneered the Drake Equation, which provided a rational and quantifiable way of estimating the number of potential civilizations in our galaxy and elsewhere. More of the terms of that equation are now being solidified as the new exoplanet data streams in and the proven number of roughly Earth-sized planets continues to climb.

He did visionary work 40 years ago with the Voyager missions and as Technical Director of the Golden Record containing Earth’s greatest music, spoken greetings, “Sounds of Earth,” and more than 100 images encoded as audio signals. These were technological feats of their time.

This ‘message’ from Earth was designed to be understandable by extraterrestrials should they encounter the spacecraft which have now traveled beyond our Sun’s heliopause into interstellar space. The newer emphasis on using optical frequencies to look for evidence of artificial signals is opening up a whole new area in radio astronomy and SETI.

He was also one of the creators of the Arecibo Message, a binary encoded image 210 bytes long, which was sent to the globular star cluster M13 in November, 1974 by the Arecibo telescope itself. The message included common scientific information, and some information about Earth and the solar system

About the Space Pioneer Award

NSS Space Pioneer AwardThe Space Pioneer award consists of a silvery pewter Moon globe cast by the Baker Art Foundry in Placerville, California, from a sculpture originally created by Don Davis, the well-known space and astronomical artist. The globe, which represents multiple space mission destinations and goals, sits freely on a brass support with a wooden base and brass plaque as shown at right. The support and base are created by renowned sculptor Michael Hall of the Studio Foundry of Driftwood, TX. NSS has several different categories under which the award is presented each year, starting in 1988. Some of the recent winners of Space Pioneer Awards include Elon Musk, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bigelow, Apollo Astronaut Russell L. Schweickart, Dr. Michael Griffin, the Rosetta Mission Team, the Kepler-K2 Team, and the New Horizons Mission Team.


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