Don E. Wilhelms

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Don E. Wilhelms

(Lunar scientist)

Lunar Work

With his geologic mapping of the Moon, Don Wilhelms set the methods and standards for planetary mapping. He is author of Geologic History of the Moon (1987, USGS Professional Paper 1348) and To a Rocky Moon, A Geologist's History of Lunar Exploration (1993, University of Arizona Press), as well as many other science publications and planetary geologic maps. Don helped train Apollo astronauts and served as a professional expert on news broadcasts in Germany during the Apollo 11 Moon landing.

Where & When

In 1962, the space program was really getting started. A friend told him that someone-Gene Shoemaker-was over at Caltech interviewing people for jobs in lunar geology with the USGS. Don got an interview with Gene. During the interview, Gene and Don discovered mutual interests in astronomy, Quaternary geology, geologic processes, and non-uniformitarianism, but Don did not receive a follow-up letter. This job, combining his old love of astronomy with his new immersion in geology was the only thing in life that Don really knew for certain that he wanted. He wrote Gene, restating his interest. Gene started the paperwork to hire Don in 1962.

Elaborated and codified the lunar stratigraphic scheme and methods of stratigraphy-based lunar and planetary geologic mapping first conceived by Eugene Shoemaker (e.g. Wilhelms, 1970, 1984, 1987, 1990)

Personal Information

Donald Wilhelms (Wikipedia)


July 5, 1930; Hollywood, California.


Ph.D. degree from UCLA in 1963 in Geology

Current Contact Information/Websites


  • Wilhelms, D. E., 1970, Summary of Lunar Stratigraphy-Telescopic Observations: USGS Professional Paper 599-F, 47 p.
  • Wilhelms, D. E. and McCauley, J. F., 1971, Geologic Map of the Near Side of the Moon: USGS Map I-703.
  • Wilhelms, D. E. and Davis, D. E., 1971, Two former faces of the Moon: Icarus 15, p. 368-372.
  • Wilhelms, D. E. and El-Baz, Farouk, 1977, Geologic Map of the East Side of the Moon: USGS Map I-946.
  • Wilhelms, D. E., Howard, K. A., and Wilshire, H. G., 1979, Geologic map of the South Side of the Moon: USGS Map I-1192.
  • Wilhelms, D. E., 1984, Moon, in M. H. Carr, ed., The Geology of the Terrestrial Planets: NASA SP-469, p. 106-205.
  • Wilhelms, D. E. and Squyres, S. W., 1984, The martian hemispheric dichotomy may be due to a giant impact basin: Nature 309, p. 138-140.
  • Wilhelms, D. E., 1987, The Geologic History of the Moon: USGS Professional Paper 1348, 302 p.
  • Wilhelms, D. E., 1990, Geologic Mapping, in Ronald Greeley and R. M. Batson, eds., Planetary Mapping: Cambridge, England, Cambridge University Press, p. 208-260.
  • Wilhelms, D. E., 1993, To a Rocky Moon, A Geologist's History of Lunar Exploration: University of Arizona Press, Tucson, 477 p.

Additional Information

  • USGS page honoring Don
  • Harrison H. Schmitt's critique (To a Rocky Moon) in Sky and Telescope, september 1993, pages 55, 56.