Burial In Space

Death – the last sleep? No, it is the final awakening.
— Walter Scott

Today, astronomer Clyde Tombaugh’s ashes will pass within 7,800 miles of Pluto, the planet he discovered.

Clyde_W._TombaughClyde Tombaugh in 1928 with a homemade telescope

The astronomer’s ashes are stored on New Horizons, the NASA space probe that on Tuesday will make its closest pass to the icy dwarf planet at the edge of our solar system. New Horizons will allow scientists to get their closest, most detailed look at the planet so far in history.

7956000730_3c0cf6b403_oGene Roddenberry with his creation.

Tombaugh isn’t the only human to be buried in the vast expanses space, even though our time there has been limited. The first space burial was Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, whose ashes were brought aboard the space shuttle Columbia. Others who have been buried in space include Timothy Leary, Eugene Shoemaker, L. Gordon Cooper and James Doohan. If you want your own ashes in space, there’s a private company, Celestis, that will provide that service.

Tombaugh, who lived from 1906 to 1997, was a researcher at the Lowell Observatory when he discovered Pluto. He went on to teach at the New Mexico State University until his retirement.

Godspeed, Mr. Tombaugh!

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