Kevin Frake Death, Obituary – The news of Kevin Frake’s passing has left me in utter disbelief tonight. A man who always took the time to ask me how I was getting on in London and who made me feel at home in Orient as though I had spent my entire life there. At Brisbane Road, there is no shortage of pints. He was amazing in every way. I will miss him very, very much.
He was one of the first astronomers to measure the intense surface temperature on Venus, which is a result of the greenhouse effect caused by the planet’s thick atmosphere. He made the first observations of Jupiter’s radiation belts while working as a radio astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia. These belts are similar to the Van Allen belts that surround the Earth.
However, he will be most well-known for his work on Project Ozma, which was conducted using the 85-foot radio telescope at Green Bank and was named after Princess Ozma from L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz books. Drake spent three months searching the sun-like stars Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani for radio signals that could have originated from planets that were home to extraterrestrial civilizations. Although none were discovered,
Drake reflected on the experience in an interview in 2012, saying, “It was a start – and it did motivate a lot of other people to start searching.” Ultimately, the search was fruitless. The public’s attention was rapidly drawn to Project Ozma, and in 1961, the United States Academy of Sciences provided financing for Drake to host a workshop at Green Bank to debate the search for life beyond Earth. Colleagues from all around the United States were in attendance for the workshop.
After realizing that he needed to organize this conversation, he started writing down the criteria that astronomers would require in order to determine how many observable civilisations there might be throughout the Milky Way. He did this because he realized that he needed to organize this discussion.