Black History Month Spotlight: Valerie Thomas




Happy Black History month! 

Today I wanted to highlight a  less known African American we do not usually hear about when speaking about black history. It’s important to know of the woman who is a  major contributor and helped propel the US in scientific advancement for NASA.


Valerie L. Thomas is an American scientist and inventor.  And a NASA Physicist. She invented the illusion transmitter, for which she received a patent in 1980. She was responsible for developing the digital media formats image processing systems used in the early years of the Landsat program. She was born February 8, 1943  in Maryland and is 77 years old today. She  attended Morgan State University where she was one of two women majoring in Physics. Thomas excelled in her mathematics and science courses at Morgan State University and after graduating with a degree in physics went on to work for NASA. In 1976 she attended a scientific seminar where she viewed an exhibit that demonstrated an illusion. 


At the end of August 1995, she retired from NASA and her position of associate chief of NASA’s Space Science Data Operations Office.Thomas contributed widely to the study of space. She helped to develop computer program designs that supported research on Halley’s Comet, the ozone layer, and satellite technology. For her achievements, Thomas received a number of NASA awards including the Goddard Space Flight Center Award of Merit and the NASA Equal Opportunity Medal. Her success as a scientist, despite the lack of early support for her interests, inspired Thomas to reach out to students. In addition to her work at NASA, she mentored youths through the National Technical Association and Science Mathematics Aerospace Research and Technology, Inc.