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Staff Biography: Jim Skinner

Like many other kids, Jim wanted to be an astronaut. He grew up during the shuttle era in a house situated on an old granitic intrusion, where he extracted mica packets straight from the weathered red mud. He loved making maps: there was a creek that ran behind his neighbor’s house, and he would make maps of the neighborhood and chart out traverses of how he would explore the region.

Jim Skinner
Jim Skinner

He recalls the set of encyclopedias his parents had in the basement. Jim recalls, “The ‘S’ was so large, it had to be split into two volumes, with the second being ‘Sp’, which I would use to look up ‘space.’ I studied the Apollo flight path around the Moon, the landing images, the verbal call backs between the Moon and Houston as recorded in those big books.”

His childhood activities sold him on maps, geology, and exploration.  Now, with a master’s degree in Geology from Northern Arizona University, Jim is a Research Geologist at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center, specializing in the evolution of planetary landscapes using remote-sensing and comparative field-based geologic mapping and associated topical research. He leads Astrogeology’s Planetary Geologic Mapping group, and is particularly proud to be among the next generation of scientists helping to explore the Moon via the NASA Artemis missions. “It is beyond my wildest expectations. From mica packets, encyclopedias, and maps of my neighborhood, I have grown to be a participant in a great experiment of humanity – putting humans on the Moon and advancing our footprint in the Solar System. Wow!”

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