This Man’s Grave Is Over Four Billion Miles From Earth
Burial sites come in many shapes, colors, and locations, but few are as unique as Clyde Tombaugh’s last resting place. Tombaugh died in 1997, and in 2006, an ounce of his cremated remains were placed in an aluminum capsule aboard New Horizons, a space probe that is part of NASA’s mission to Pluto.
Tombaugh was the first person to ever get a glimpse of Pluto in 1930. When he was 24 years old, working at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, he discovered a planetary body that was then dubbed “Planet X.” His discovery completely reshaped scientists’ understanding of the solar system.
Surprisingly, being “buried” in space isn’t unique. Since Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry did it in 1992, around 450 people have followed suit, requesting that a small portion of their cremated remains be launched into the great unknown. There are even companies dedicated to space burial, including Elysium and Celestis.
Tombaugh, however, has taken the longest postmortem flight of anyone, coming within 7,800 miles of Pluto in July 2015. New Horizons is still cruising through space as we speak, and is currently over four billion miles from Earth. In a 2015 interview with NASA, Tombaugh’s daughter Annette said, “I think my dad would be thrilled…When he looked at Pluto, it was just a speck of light.”
H/T: Atlas Obscura