Valerie Thomas – Inventor of the Illusion Transmitter

Valerie Thomas is an African-American Physicist and Mathematician.  Inventor of the Illusion Transmitter as well as a lead project manager for one of NASA’s most utilized technologies- Landsat.  Earning numerous awards for her scientific achievements does not justify how important her project and invention are becoming for our learning of outer space as well as our quickly improving television set.  Beginning her career at NASA in the early 70’s, she was fast to create the Landsat satellite series which serve the purpose of capturing images from outer space and transmit them back to NASA for analyzing.

Born in May 1943, African-American Valerie Thomas grew up tinkering with her father’s electronics and playing with what were considered “males” electronics.  Things like an old radio, television, camera, among other early electronic devices ultimately lead her to her passion for technology & science, her own patent, and numerous awards for her outstanding achievements.

She would earn a degree from Morgan State University in Physics while being one of only two women to do so at the time.  While by today’s standards this is a great accomplishment for any individual; in the 1960’s this was relatively unheard of.  In addition to being an African-American female at a University, she also chose a path not typically sought out by females- Mathematics and Science.  She faced much adversity growing up during tough times for African-American’s and excelled tremendously in her fields of work throughout her career with NASA.

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