Eugene Shoemaker unable to go to space due to illness, NASA honored him by making him the only man “buried” on the moon.
In July 1969, when Apollo 11 landed on the moon and Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the satellite, someone imagined that in the following decades there would be human settlements on the satellite.
More than half a century later we are still far from such an imagination. However, there is already a man whose mortal remains rest forever among the craters and lunar sands.
We are talking about Eugene Shoemaker , born in Los Angeles (United States) in 1928, a scientist who deserves to be known not only for the uniqueness of his last home, but for everything that has contributed to the knowledge of life.
Indeed, some consider him to be the founder of astrogeology because he has shown that many geographic accidents, both of the Earth and other celestial bodies, were not ancient volcanoes but the result of a meteorite impact.
It all started in Barringer Crater, located in Arizona. After studying physics, he dedicated his doctoral thesis to prove that it was a crater that formed 50,000 years ago.
Da li, avrebbe poi inaugurato e iniziato a dirigere il Programma di ricerca astrogeologica del Geological Survey (USGS) degli Stati Uniti nel 1961.
The Moon was full of craters that needed to be studied, so Shoemaker entered the Apollo program and participated in astronaut training.
The idea was that I could educate them on the type of rocks that would be found when they reached the satellite.
Apparently, he himself was placed on the list of possible candidates to become an astronaut , take a walk on the moon and collect the samples that according to his criteria as a geologist would be the most interesting. However, a disease crossed his path and shattered all his plans.
He was diagnosed with Addison’s disease, a rare disorder that occurs when the adrenal glands, located at the top of each kidney, do not produce enough hormones.
Shoemaker then trained his disciple Harrison Schmitt to make the journey and take geological lunar samples. He became the twelfth and last man to step on the moon and the first scientist to do so, as all other astronauts were pilots and engineers.
From the analysis of the craters he continued to study the asteroids that caused them.
From 1969, he devoted himself to the California Institute of Technology and one of his greatest successes came decades later, when in 1993 he became the co-discoverer of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which hit the planet Jupiter a year later.
It was the first time that the impact of a comet on a planet, an extraterrestrial collision , was observed between Solar System objects that had never been seen directly.
The other discoverers were his wife, Carolyn Shoemaker, and astronomer David Levy. Eugene Shoemaker died in a car accident in Australia in 1997, but his story doesn’t end there.
NASA wanted to recognize his great contributions to science and the space program; for this, his ashes were included in the Lunar Prospector space probe , which was launched into space in 1998.
After collecting data in orbit around the Moon, on July 31, 1999, it crashed in a controlled manner into the lunar surface. Presumably, the impact did not cause a large crater, but it did spread its remains.
According to popularizer Miguel Artime, Shoemaker’s ashes were in a small polycarbonate capsule with his name engraved on it.
In addition, it was accompanied by an image of Comet Hale-Bopp and another Arizona crater with which he had started his career.
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Edited by Ufoalieni.it