Comet; August 1995; Scientific American Magazine; by Levy, Shoemaker, Shoemaker; 8 Page(s)
We were working underneath the dome of the small Schmidt telescope at Palomar Observatory in California, in a cramped room cluttered with papers, books and a laptop computer. It was May 22, 1993. Carolyn sat hunched over her stereomicroscope, an instrument she has used to examine photographs for asteroids and comets for more than a decade, since she joined her husband, Gene, in his survey of these small wanderers in the sky.
Gene has spent a significant part of his career examining such objects. His studies in the 1950s demonstrated how the large pockmark in the desert east of Flagstaff, Ariz., formed after a small asteroid struck the earth. He later investigated craters on our own moon and on the moons of the outer planets, as well as the remnants of ancient collisions in the Australian outback. More recently Gene, along with Carolyn, has been engaged in a systematic search for asteroids capable of striking the earth.