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Eugene Merle Shoemaker

Eugene Shoemaker at a stereoscopic microscope used for asteroid discovery
Born April 28, 1928 (1928-04-28)
Los Angeles, California
Died July 18, 1997 (1997-07-19) (aged 69)
Alice Springs, Australia
Alma mater Princeton
Known for planetary science
Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9
Eugene Shoemaker wearing a Bell rocket belt while training astronauts.

Eugene Merle Shoemaker (or Gene Shoemaker) (April 28, 1928 – July 18, 1997) was one of the founders of the fields of planetary science. Born in Los Angeles, California, he is best known for co-discovering the Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with his wife Carolyn Shoemaker and David Levy.

Contents

Scientific contributions

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Astrogeology and Apollo

For his Ph.D. at Princeton (1960), Shoemaker studied the impact dynamics of Barringer Meteor Crater, located near Winslow, Arizona. To understand the dynamics, Shoemaker inspected craters that remained after underground atomic bomb tests at the Nevada Test Site at Yucca Flats. He found a ring of ejected material that included shocked quartz (coesite), a form of quartz that has a microscopically unique structure caused by intense pressure.

Shoemaker helped pioneer the field of astrogeology by founding the Astrogeology Research Program of the U.S. Geological Survey in 1961 at Flagstaff, Arizona and he was its first director. He was prominently involved in the Lunar Ranger missions to the Moon, which showed that the Moon was covered with a wide size range of impact craters. Shoemaker was also involved in the training of the American astronauts. He himself was a possible candidate for an Apollo moon flight and was set to be the first geologist to walk on the Moon but was disqualified due to being diagnosed with Addison's disease, a disorder of the adrenal gland. Shoemaker would train astronauts during field trips to Meteor Crater and Sunset Crater near Flagstaff.[1]

Coming to Caltech in 1969, he started a systematic search for Earth orbit-crossing asteroids, which resulted in the discovery of several families of such asteroids, including the Apollo asteroids. Since then, Shoemaker has done more than any other person to advance the idea that sudden geologic changes can arise from asteroid strikes and that asteroid strikes are common over geologic time periods. Previously, astroblemes were thought to be remnants of extinct volcanoes – even on the Moon.

Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9

Shoemaker received the Barringer Medal in 1984 and a National Medal of Science in 1992. In 1993, he co-discovered Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 using the 18" Schmidt camera at Palomar Observatory. This comet was unique in that it provided the first opportunity for scientists to observe the planetary impact of a comet. Shoemaker-Levy 9 collided with Jupiter in 1994. The resulting impact caused a massive "scar" on the face of Jupiter. Most scientists at the time were dubious of whether there would even be any evident markings on the planet.

Death

Shoemaker spent much of his later years searching for and finding several previously unnoticed or undiscovered meteor craters around the world. It was during one such expedition that Shoemaker died in a car accident while on the Tanami Road northwest of Alice Springs, Australia in July 1997. On July 31, 1999, some of his ashes were carried to the Moon by the Lunar Prospector space probe in a capsule designed by Carolyn Porco. To date, he is the only person to have been buried on the Moon.[2]

The brass foil wrapping of Shoemaker's memorial capsule is inscribed with images of Comet Hale-Bopp, the Barringer Crater, and a quotation from Romeo and Juliet reading

"And, when he shall die
Take him and cut him out in little stars
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun."[3]

Bibliography

  • Farley, K. A.; Montanari, A.; Shoemaker, E. M.; Shoemaker, C. S. (1998), "Geochemical evidence for a comet shower in the late Eocene.", Science 280 (5367): 1250–3, 1998 May 22, PMID 9596575  
  • Nozette, S. D.; Lichtenberg, C. L.; Spudis, P. D.; Bonner, R.; Ort, W.; Malaret, E.; Robinson, M. S.; Shoemaker, E. M. (1996), "The Clementine bistatic radar experiment.", Science 274 (5292): 1495–8, 1996 Nov 29, PMID 8929403  
  • Shoemaker, E. M.; Robinson, M. S.; Eliason, E. M. (1994), "The South Pole Region of the Moon as Seen by Clementine.", Science 266 (5192): 1851–1854, 1994 Dec 16, doi:10.1126/science.266.5192.1851, PMID 17737080  
  • Nozette, S. D.; Rustan, P. L.; Pleasance, L. D.; Kordas, J. F.; Lewis, I. T.; Park, H. S.; Priest, R. E.; Horan, D. M. et al. (1994), "The Clementine Mission to the Moon: Scientific Overview.", Science 266 (5192): 1835–1839, 1994 Dec 16, doi:10.1126/science.266.5192.1835, PMID 17737076  
  • Weaver, H. A.; Feldman, P. D.; A'Hearn, M. F.; Arpigny, C.; Brown, R. A.; Helin, E. F.; Levy, D. H.; Marsden, B. G. et al. (1994), "Hubble Space Telescope Observations of Comet P/Shoemaker-Levy 9 (1993e).", Science 263 (5148): 787–791, 1994 Feb 11, doi:10.1126/science.263.5148.787, PMID 17770832  
  • Soderblom, L. A.; Kieffer, S. W.; Becker, T. L.; Brown, R. H.; Cook, A. F. 2nd; Hansen, C. J.; Johnson, T. V.; Kirk, R. L. et al. (1990), Triton's Geyser-Like Plumes: Discovery and Basic Characterization., 250 (published 1990 Oct 19), pp. 410–415, doi:10.1126/science.250.4979.410, PMID 17793016  
  • Kring, D.A., (2007) "Guidebook to the Geology of Barringer Meteorite Crater, Arizona (a.k.a. Meteor Crater)". Lunar and Planetary Institute contribution No. 1355
  • Smith, B. A.; Soderblom, L. A.; Banfield, D.; Barnet, C. D.; Basilevsky, A. T.; Beebe, R. F.; Bollinger, K.; Boyce, J. M. et al. (1989), "Voyager 2 at Neptune: Imaging Science Results.", Science 246 (4936): 1422–1449, 1989 Dec 15, doi:10.1126/science.246.4936.1422, PMID 17755997  
  • Smith, B. A.; Soderblom, L. A.; Beebe, R. F.; Bliss, D.; Boyce, J. M.; Brahic, A.; Briggs, G. A.; Brown, R. H. et al. (1986), Voyager 2 in the Uranian System: Imaging Science Results., 233 (published 1986 Jul 4), pp. 43–64, doi:10.1126/science.233.4759.43, PMID 17812889  
  • Cook, A. F.; Shoemaker, E. M.; Smith, B. A.; Danielson, G. E.; Johnson, T. V.; Synnott, S. P. (1981), "Volcanic Origin of the Eruptive Plumes on Io.", Science 211 (4489): 1419–1422, 1981 Mar 27, doi:10.1126/science.211.4489.1419, PMID 17731183  
  • Smith, B. A.; Soderblom, L. A.; Beebe, R. F.; Boyce, J. M.; Briggs, G. A.; Carr, M. H.; Collins, S. A.; Cook, A. F. 2nd et al. (1979), "The Galilean Satellites and Jupiter: Voyager 2 Imaging Science Results.", Science 206 (4421): 927–950, 1979 Nov 23, doi:10.1126/science.206.4421.927, PMID 17733910  
  • Smith, B. A.; Soderblom, L. A.; Johnson, T. V.; Ingersoll, A. P.; Collins, S. A.; Shoemaker, E. M.; Hunt, G. E.; Masursky, H. et al. (1979), The Jupiter System Through the Eyes of Voyager 1., 204 (published 1979 Jun 1), pp. 951–972, doi:10.1126/science.204.4396.951, PMID 17800430  
  • Shoemaker, E. M.; Hait, M. H.; Swann, G. A.; Schleicher, D. L.; Dahlem, D. H.; Schaber, G. G.; Sutton, R. L. (1970), Lunar Regolith at Tranquillity Base., 167 (published 1970 Jan 30), pp. 452–455, doi:10.1126/science.167.3918.452, PMID 17781449  
  • Shoemaker, E. M.; Batson, R. M.; Holt, H. E.; Morris, E. C.; Rennilson, J. J.; Whitaker, E. A. (1967), "Surveyor V: Television Pictures.", Science 158 (3801): 642–652, 1967 Nov 3, doi:10.1126/science.158.3801.642, PMID 17732959  
  • Gault, D. E.; Adams, J. B.; Collins, R. J.; Green, J.; Kuiper, G. P.; Mazursky, H.; O'Keefe, J. A.; Phinney, R. A. et al. (1967), "Surveyor V: Discussion of Chemical Analysis.", Science 158 (3801): 641–642, 1967 Nov 3, doi:10.1126/science.158.3801.641, PMID 17732958  
  • Chao, E. C. T.; Shoemaker, E. M.; Madsen, B. M. (1960), "First Natural Occurrence of Coesite.", Science 132 (3421): 220–222, 1960 Jul 22, doi:10.1126/science.132.3421.220, PMID 17748937  

References

  1. ^ http://astrogeology.usgs.gov/About/AstroHistory/astronauts.html
  2. ^ SPACE.com — Fly Me to the Moon ... Forever
  3. ^ NASA.gov - Eugene Shoemaker Ashes Carried on Lunar Prospector

External links


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