At NASA, she played a pivotal role in various research projects, including managing the development of image-processing systems for Landsat, the first satellite to transmit images of Earth from space.
In 1980, Valerie Thomas achieved a milestone that would revolutionize visual technology. She received a patent for an illusion transmitter, a device capable of creating optical illusion images using concave mirrors.
Unlike flat mirrors, which reflect images behind them, concave mirrors produce images that appear real or in front of the mirror itself.
Thomas’s contributions extended beyond her groundbreaking invention. Throughout her career at NASA, which spanned until her retirement in 1995, she held various positions, including Project Manager of the Space Physics Analysis Network and Associate Chief of the Space Science Data Operations Office.
Despite facing obstacles and lack of early support for her interests, Valerie Thomas’s perseverance and achievements earned her numerous accolades, including the Goddard Space Flight Center Award of Merit and the NASA Equal Opportunity Medal.