Alex’s last post reminded me of my meeting with the Shoemakers and the remarkable story how Gene Shoemaker went to the Moon.
Gene was involved in the Apollo program , he was the geologist who trained the astronauts to identify and collect the rocks they would bring back to Earth. NASA eventually decided to send a professional scientist, a geologist, to the Moon and Gene was chosen. Unfortunately he was found to have Addison’s disease and was disqualified. Harrison Schmitt got to go instead.
Years latter his wife Carolyn co-discovered Comet Shoemaker Levy which was big news at the time as it impacted Jupiter in 1994. I can remember seeing the impact scars with my telescope it was a truly amazing event. (thats why there was a bunch of asteroid impact movies in the late 1990s).
In 1997 Carolyn and Gene came to Australia on a lecture tour. I remember going to Carolyn’s Sydney talk and meeting them. Gene was a proper Texas gentleman who wore a cowboy hat and one of those string ties.
After they finished their lecture tour they went off exploring the Australian Outback, searching for meteor craters. Sadly, they had a car accident in the Northern Territory and Gene was killed.
Well, Gene finally got his wish to go to the Moon . In 1999 the Lunar Prospector was sent to the Moon and Gene had to honor of having his ashes on-board. To this day he is the only person ever buried on the Moon.