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From 1964 to 1995, African American inventor and scientist Valerie Thomas worked in a variety of capacities for NASA, where she developed real-time computer data systems, conducted large-scale experiments and managed numerous operations, projects and facilities.
While overseeing a project for NASA's image processing systems, Thomas' team spearheaded the development of “Landsat,” the first satellite to send images from space. Later, in 1980, she received a patent for an illusion transmitter, which uses concave mirrors on both ends of the transmission to create the optical illusion of a 3-dimensional image on the receiving end. NASA continues to use this technology and is exploring new applications for it.