Drake studied astronomy at Cornell University and Harvard University . He began his career as a radio astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Green Bank , West Virginia . There he performed essential measurements which was revealed the presence of Jovian-ionosphere and the magnetosphere. In 1960 he conducted his first research on signals from foreign intelligent beings, also called extraterrestrials called. For his project OZMA he founded the first NRAO telescope at Tau Ceti , one of the nearest sun-like stars, and then Epsilon Eridani .But research into both galaxies yielded no results.
Despite the negative results, he was the one who, together with J. Peter Pearman, the first SETI conference held in 1961 in Green Bank. For a select audience of physicists and astronomers, he presented as his Drake equation , a formula to estimate how much on the basis of probabilities extraterrestrial civilizations exist in the universe .
He wrote with Carl Sagan also Areciboboodschap , a radio message that was sent into space to mark the reopening of the Arecibo Observatory in 1974. It was a digitally encrypted message with an astronomical and biological description of the Earth and the life forms present.