A man is "buried" on the Moon: Who is he, and why is he on our satellite?

Not many people know that a man was "buried" on our satellite about 25 years ago: Eugene Shoemaker. Let's find out together who he was and why this privilege was reserved for him.

A man is "buried" between the craters of our satellite.

Well yes, on the Moon there are the remains of a man whose name is Eugene Shoemaker, called “Gene”, an American geologist who was one of the founders of the field of planetary sciences.

Among his greatest achievements is also that of having discovered in 1993, together with his wife Carolyn and David Levy, the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, the first comet observed then the following year during his fall on a planet, to be exact on the “great Jupiter”.

Who was Eugene Shoemaker?

Born in Los Angeles on April 28, 1928, in 1960 he took his doctorate from Princeton University with a thesis on the Barringer Crater, located near Wislow, Arizona, and originated by the impact with a meteorite.

Thanks to these studies he also worked on the Lunar Ranger missions on our satellite, in fact all the craters on the Moon are also caused by the impact of meteorites.

Not only that, during the course of his career he devoted himself to numerous issues related to astrogeology, founding in 1961 the Astrogeology Research Program of the US Geological Survey, of which he was also the first director.

Subsequently, once he arrived at Caltech's university, he began a systematic search for asteroids crossing the Earth's orbit. It is thanks to his work that various families of asteroids were discovered including the famous Apollo asteroids.

The Earth seen from the Moon, in a graphic reconstruction.

He was also a possible candidate to become the first geologist to walk on the Moon during the Apollo mission, but unfortunately due to a problem of the adrenal gland he was discarded for that mission, however he still managed to reach our satellite.

In fact, after his death on July 18, 1997 due to a car accident, part of his ashes were loaded aboard the Lunar Prospector probe and then scattered to the south pole of the Moon on July 31, 1999.

The only man to be at the moment "baried" on the Moon

The ashes were contained in a commemorative brass foil capsule with engraved images of the comet Hale-Bopp (the last comet he and his wife observed and photographed together shortly before the fatal accident), of the Barringer crater (the one he analysed in his doctoral thesis) and a quote from Romeo and Juliet:

And, when he dies, take it and cut it into small stars and it will make the face of the sky so beautiful that the whole world will be in love with the night and will not worship the blazing Sun.

He is therefore currently the only person to be 'buried', at least in part, on our satellite. He was given this privilege for the incredible studies he carried out in the search for impact craters, on Earth, on the other planets of the solar system and, of course, on our Moon.

Also thanks to its very important studies, the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous space probe was later renamed “NEAR Shoemaker”.