Gene Shoemaker the man on the Moon

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.

1 Response to “Gene Shoemaker the man on the Moon”

  1. 1 Alex Michael Bonnici April 17, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Ralph, Thanks very much for sharing this wonderful and personal story about meeting Gene and Carolyn Shoemaker. If you have any more stories like these please share them.Best regards,Alex

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