Rock Solid Impact

On April 28, 1928, American planetary geologist Dr. Eugene Merle Shoemaker was born. Shoemaker pioneered the new specialty of astrogeology and distinguished the new study of planetary science from astronomy. He created the Astrogeology Research Program of the U.S. Geological Survey, lead efforts to map planets, and organized the geological activities planned for its lunar missions, landings, and astronaut training.

Astrogeologist Dr. Eugene

Astrogeologist Dr. Eugene “Gene” Shoemaker

Shoemaker initiated a systematic search for Earth orbit-crossing asteroids (small planetary bodies that orbit the sun) and comets (objects made of ice and rocky dust particles). As a result, we Earthlings received a heads-up as pieces of a comet designated as Shoemaker-Levy 9 collided with Jupiter, in July 1994 – the first collision of solar system bodies ever observed. The impacts on Jupiter were spectacular and provided an inkling of what sudden geologic changes are produced from cometary impact on a planet.

In his honour, the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous space probe was renamed NEAR Shoemaker. It arrived at asteroid 433 Eros, more than 145 million miles from Earth, in February 2000, and landed on the asteroid after a year of orbital investigation.

NASA depiction of NEAR Shoemaker and asteroid 433 Eros

NASA depiction of NEAR Shoemaker and asteroid 433 Eros


B Bondar / Real World Content Advantage


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