Virginia Tower Norwood was an American aerospace engineer, inventor, and physicist, and a founding figure in the field of satellite land imaging. Growing up, her father actively encouraged her interest in physics and mathematics; he gave her a slide rule when she was nine years old. In 1947, she graduated from MIT with a degree in mathematical physics. At the age of 22, she designed a radar reflector for weather balloons to track winds at high altitudes, which allowed long-term weather predictions for the first time. At 39, she designed the microwave transmitter which allowed Surveyor 1, a moon lander, to send images of the lunar surface back to Earth. She is probably best known for designing the Multispectral Scanner, first used on Landsat 1, the first satellite of the United States’ Landsat program. She has been called “The Mother of Lansat” for this work.

Learn more at MIT Technical Review.