Whose Ashes Were Brought to the Moon?


In 1999, a space probe called the Lunar Prospector carried some of the ashes of American scientist Eugene Shoemaker to the moon. As of 2015, Shoemaker is the only human to be "buried" on the moon, though not all of Shoemaker's remains were sent with the Prospector.

The scientist who designed the probe, Carolyn Porco, was a colleague of Shoemaker's, and it was her idea to include his remains in the Lunar Prospector's mission to the moon. Shoemaker died in 1997 as the result of a car crash in Australia, and Porco said she got the idea to send his ashes to space as soon as she heard of his death.

An academic, Shoemaker is one of the pioneers of the academic discipline of planetary science. He worked as a television correspondent for CBS during several space flight events, including the Apollo 11 moon landing. In the academic sphere, Shoemaker is credited as one of the discoverers of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, along with his colleagues Carol Shoemaker (also his wife) and David Levy. Shoemaker had initially had ambitions of making a trip to the moon while he was alive, but his health excluded him from astronaut candidacy. Fortunately, Porco was able to make her late colleague's dream come true posthumously.