Date sent: Tue, 22 Jul 1997 08:06:51 -0400 (EDT)
From: Benny J Peiser <>
Subject: NASA Statement on the Passing of Gene Shoemaker
Priority: NORMAL


Douglas Isbell July 19, 1997
Headquarters, Washington, DC
(Phone: 202/358-1753)

RELEASE: 97-156


Planetary scientist Dr. Eugene ("Gene") Shoemaker, 69, was
killed in a two-car accident near Alice Springs, Australia, on the
afternoon of July 18. His wife Carolyn Shoemaker suffered broken
bones, and reportedly is hospitalized in stable condition.

A geologist by training, Shoemaker is best known for
discovering, with his wife Carolyn and colleague David Levy, a
comet near Jupiter. Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 was broken up by tidal
forces from Jupiter, and its fragments collided with the planet in
July 1994. Together, the Shoemakers were the leading discoverers
of comets this century.

"Gene was one of the most renowned planetary scientists in
the world, and a valued member of the NASA family since the
earliest days of lunar exploration," said NASA Administrator
Daniel S. Goldin. "His work on the history of meteor impacts and
the role that they play in the evolution of the Solar System is a
fundamental milestone in the history of space science.

"Gene was an extremely articulate man who could explain the
wonders of the planets in simple language that anyone could
understand and get excited about," Goldin added. "Although he
never realized his dream of doing field geology on the surface of
the Moon, all future exploration of that rocky world owes a debt
to his pioneering spirit. Our warmest thoughts are with his dear
wife Carolyn as she recovers from her injuries."

Shoemaker's signature work was his research on the nature and
origin of the Barringer Meteor Crater near Winslow, AZ, which
helped provide a foundation for cratering research on the Moon and
planets. This work led to the establishment of a lunar chronology,
allowing the dating of geological features of its surface.

Shoemaker took part in the Ranger lunar robotic missions, was
principal investigator for the television experiment on the
Surveyor lunar landers (1963-1968), and led the geology field
investigations team for the first Apollo lunar landings (1965-
1970). In 1961, he organized the Branch of Astrogeology of the
U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, AZ, and acted as its director
from 1961 to 1966. On his retirement from the U.S.G.S. in 1993,
Shoemaker became a staff member at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.

An early supporter of the idea that an asteroid or comet
impact had doomed much of Earth's life (including the dinosaurs)
65 million years ago, Shoemaker chaired key NASA working groups on
how best to survey such near-Earth objects in 1981 and 1994. Most
recently, he was active in the Clementine mission that imaged the
Moon, and was science team leader on the planned Clementine 2 mission.

Shoemaker won numerous awards during his career, and in 1980
became a member of the National Academy of Sciences.


CCCMENU CCC for 1997