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Wednesday, 15 March, 2000, 11:20 GMT
Spacecraft named for Shoemaker
Comet Nasa
Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9: A 'string of pearls'
Nasa's Near satellite, currently circling the asteroid Eros, will be renamed in honour of Eugene Shoemaker.

Dr Shoemaker was a geologist who influenced decades of research on the role of asteroids and comets in shaping the planets.

Shoemaker Nasa
Husband and wife team
Near (Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous) is conducting the first ever close-up survey of an asteroid and will now be known as Near Shoemaker.

"Gene Shoemaker was an inspirational, charismatic pioneer in the field of interplanetary science," said Dr Carl Pilcher, at Nasa Headquarters.

"It is a fitting tribute that we place his name on the spacecraft whose mission will expand on all he taught us about asteroids, comets and the origins of our Solar System."

Impact craters

Dr Shoemaker died in a 1997 car accident in the Australian outback while on an annual study of asteroid impact craters. With his wife and research partner, Carolyn, Dr Shoemaker was part of the leading comet discovery team of the past century.

Its most famous find was the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which broke up and collided with Jupiter in 1994.

He was also an expert on craters and the impacts that caused them but never realised his dream of tapping a rock hammer on the Moon. He did however teach the Apollo astronauts about craters and lunar geology before they left Earth.

Last year, Nasa's Lunar Prospector spacecraft crashed into the Moon as part of an experiment and scattered a small vial of Dr Shoemaker's ashes.

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21 Feb 00 | Sci/Tech
Eros is 'no ordinary rock'
28 Jul 99 | Sci/Tech
Moon burial for geologist
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