If the name Eugene Shoemaker means anything to you, it's probably because he, along with his wife Carolyn Shoemaker and David Levy, discovered the comet that was later named Shoemaker-Levy 9, which crashed into Jupiter in 1994. That was only one part of Shoemaker's scientific career.
Shoemaker enjoyed a celebrated career combining his main discipline of geology with more astronomical applications, helping to create the field of planetary science. He studied a number of craters here on Earth, and in the early 1960s, he founded the Astrogeology Research Program within the United States Geological Survey. Shoemaker used his knowledge to train a number of Apollo mission astronauts about what they could expect to find on the surface of the Moon, in terms of terrain.
His fascinating life came to an abrupt end on July 18, 1997, when he died in a car crash while exploring a meteor crater in Australia. But even in death, as it turned out, his journey was far from over.
Shoemaker wanted to be an astronaut, but was eliminated from the NASA flight program over medical concerns. Still, he went to the moon, or at least his earthly remains did. Read how Eugene Shoemaker became the only man buried on the moon at Atlas Obscura.
(Image credit: NASA)