From Publishers Weekly
Eugene Shoemaker (1928-1997) is best known to the general public for his discovery, along with his wife, Carolyn, and author Levy, of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which slammed into the planet Jupiter in 1994. Shoemaker had played an important role in the Ranger and Apollo programs, where he helped to determine the geology of the moon's surface and ascertained that landing craft and astronauts wouldn't sink knee-deep into the thick regolith (surface material) as other scientists had speculated. He also made important discoveries in the new field of paleomagnetism, determining the age of rocks through analysis of their magnetic orientation. But Shoemaker, who was killed in a freak car accident in the Australian Outback, will be best remembered for proving that huge craters like Meteor Crater in Arizona and those on the moon were not caused by volcanic activity, but by the colossal and often deadly impact of asteroids and comets. Shoemaker-Levy 9 provided the final bit of evidence: mysterious strings of craters on our moon and elsewhere are now recognized as having been created by similar comets or asteroids that broke up before impact. Fellow comet hunter Levy, the biographer of astronomers Bart Bok and Clyde Tombaugh, pens an affectionate portrait of his gifted if mercurial friend. Not all of the amusing anecdotes contribute to the total picture, and Levy's prose is occasionally a little stiff, but readers will appreciate, in addition to its welcome memoir of Shoemaker, the book's overview of the development of planetary geology during the last half-century. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Scientific American
Their names are memorably linked to Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which they discovered in 1993 and which captured worldwide attention when 21 fragments of it crashed into Jupiter in July of 1994. Eugene M. Shoemaker, who died in an automobile accident in 1997, was a geologist who spent much of his career studying impact craters on the moon and Earth. (He "practically invented the field of astrogeology," according to Paul W. Chodas of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.) Levy is a writer on astronomy and the discoverer of 21 comets. He skillfully describes Shoemaker's work and sharply delineates his strong personality. Shoemaker got his lifelong wish to see an impact when that comet struck Jupiter. And his wish to go to the moon, thwarted by his health, was fulfilled when the spacecraft Lunar Prospector, carrying one ounce of his ashes, crashed onto the lunar surface five years to the week after the last traces of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 disappeared.
EDITORS OF SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN