Eugene Merle Shoemaker was an American geologist and one of the founders of the field of planetary science. He is best known for co-discovering the Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 with his wife Carolyn Shoemaker and David Levy.
Shoemaker spent much of his later years searching for and finding several previously unnoticed or undiscovered impact craters around the world. Shoemaker died on July 18, 1997 during one such expedition following a head on car accident while on the Tanami Road northwest of Alice Springs, Australia. His vehicle and another were thought to be using the center, relatively smooth part of a heavily rutted, unimproved road.
On seeing Shoemaker approaching, the driver of the other vehicle pulled hard to his left, and had Shoemaker done the same, the vehicles likely would have passed each other. But Shoemaker, as an American accustomed to driving on the right side of the road, instinctively pulled hard to his right and so directly into the path of the other vehicle. A head-on collision in which Shoemaker’s vehicle was traveling at 80km/hr and the approaching vehicle at 50 km/hr ensued in which Shoemaker was killed instantly and his wife severely injured.
On July 31, 1999, his ashes were carried to the Moon by the Lunar Prospector space probe in a capsule designed by Carolyn Porco. To date, he is the only person whose ashes have been buried on the Moon.