Paper No. 14
Presentation Time: 11:30 AM


KIEFFER, Susan W., Geology, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, 245 Natural History Building, 1301 W. Green Street, Urbana, IL 61801, CARR, Michael H., U.S. Geological Survey, MS-973, 345 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025, HERKENHOFF, Kenneth E., US Geological Survey, 2255 N Gemini Dr, Flagstaff, AZ 86001-1698, MCEWEN, Alfred S., Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, Univ of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721-0063, PLESCIA, Jeffrey B., Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University, Laurel, MD 20723, ROBINSON, Mark S., School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85251, SCHMITT, Harrison, NASA, Taurus Littrow Valley, The Moon and SODERBLOM, Larry, Astrogeology Team, U. S. Geological Survey, 2255 N. Gemini Dr, Flagstaff, AZ 86001,

Dr. Eugene (Gene) Shoemaker (1928-1997) is recognized as one of the fathers of planetary geology, along with such luminaries as Harold Urey and Gerald Kuiper. “SuperGene” began his career exploring for uranium deposits on the Colorado Plateau in 1948; his work in the Hopi Buttes led to profound insights about eruption processes forming volcanic maars. From 1957-1960, while organizing what became the future USGS Branch of Astrogeology, Shoemaker did his classic work on the structure and origin of Meteor Crater. His study of nuclear explosion craters greatly influenced his meticulous analysis of the mechanics of meteorite impact. The Meteor Crater work, including the co-discovery with Ed Chao of coesite, convinced the scientific community that impact cratering was important as a geologic and planetary process. This work was followed, in cooperation with Gene Hackman, by the development of a lunar stratigraphic time scale, still in use today. Shoemaker was instrumental in development of lunar science as a Principal Investigator on the Ranger, Surveyor and Apollo 11 and 12 missions. Gene played a pivotal role in ensuring that the Apollo astronauts conducted meaningful science investigations on the Moon. The payoff began with Neil Armstrong’s collection of a remarkably varied suite of samples from the Moon.

Gene dreamed of being the first geologist on the Moon. Unfortunately, a health issue caused him to miss this opportunity; but he helped train the Apollo astronauts and chaired the National Academy committee that selected the first scientist astronaut candidates. He also laid the groundwork for the lunar sample analysis program and its international character. Shoemaker’s decade-long sky survey for Earth-crossing asteroids and comets included the discovery, with his wife and scientific partner, Carolyn, and colleague David Levy, of Comet Shoemaker-Levy that impacted Jupiter in 1994. This discovery gave the world a major new insight into our dynamic planetary system. In 1992, President Bush awarded Gene the National Medal of Science, the highest scientific honor bestowed by the Nation.

Gene was undaunted in the field, in research, and in ideas. He leaves not only a scientific legacy but fond memories of his enthusiastic personality and great love for the scientific endeavor.