LANDSAT (Photo’s Copyright: NASA Images)
Landsat is one of the most commonly known NASA technologies among other nations Space Development program’s because it is one of the most powerful tools to ever be utilized for space discovery. In fact, “From 1970-1981 she (Valerie Thomas)managed the development of Landsat image processing data systems (for three Landsat satellites), becoming known internationally as an expert contact for Landsat data products” (6). Not only is the technology and the future outlook for her inventions incredible, but some contract offers she and her colleagues received to build the technology were for unfathomable amounts of money. Valerie was the technical officer for a $42 million multi-year technical support contract and deputy project manager for the Pilot Land Data System during the early requirements definition phase.
NASA employed Valerie Thomas as a Mathematician/Data Analyst in 1964 until 1970. During this time period she was the lead in charge of handeling the development of real-time computer data systems to support satellite operations in outer space. However, it was the era of 1970-81 where she was the lead manager for the development of the Landsat image processing line of satellites. IT was not long before she became internationally renowned as an expert contact for Landsat data products. Valerie has many other great accomplishments with NASA and other space affiliates, but her Landsat development is one of the most utilized pieces of space discovery equipment available.
Why is this so important? The Landsat series allows us to see images from outer space that are taken by the satellite in infared. These satellites have long been used to look at topographical and geographical data on the earth from outer space. Thus, it basically allows us to see what happens under the surface on our own planet. Allowing our NASA teams to study the earth’s dynamics and other unknowns.
The Landsat satellites are one of the most useful because they send a real time digital image directly back to the controllers at NASA. Valerie Thomas, an African-American was in charge of the group that created this during the 1970s and was working directly beside the Landsat satellites from day one of it’s development.