Virginia Norwood, mom of satellite tv for pc imaging programs, has died aged 96

Virginia Norwood, mother of satellite imaging systems, has died aged 96

Virginia Norwood, an aerospace pioneer who invented the scanner used to map and examine the earth from area for greater than 50 years, has died at her dwelling in Topaga, California. On the age of 96.

Her demise was introduced by america Geological Survey, whose Landsat satellite tv for pc program relies on her invention. Her daughter, Naomi Norwood, mentioned her mom was discovered useless in her mattress on the morning of March 27.

Dashing 438 miles above the floor, the Landsat satellites orbit the earth each 99 minutes and have taken a whole image of the planet each 16 days since 1972. These photographs present highly effective visible clues about local weather change, deforestation forests and different modifications that have an effect on the planets well-being.

Ms. Norwood, a physicist, was the individual primarily liable for designing and supporting the scanner that made this system doable. NASA referred to as it the mom of Landsat.

On the daybreak of the period of area exploration within the Nineteen Fifties and Sixties, he labored on the Hughes Plane Firm creating devices. Certainly one of a small group of ladies in a male-dominated trade, she stood out most for her acumen.

He mentioned I used to be type of often called the one that may clear up unattainable issues, Naomi Norwood advised NASA in a video on its web site. So individuals would convey her issues, even items from different works.

Within the late Sixties, after NASA’s lunar missions despatched again spectacular photos of Earth, the director of the Geological Survey thought that photos of the planet from area may assist the company handle land sources. Below this plan, the company would work with NASA, which might ship satellites into area to take the images.

Ms. Norwood, who was a part of a sophisticated design workforce within the area and communications division at Hughes, sought out scientists specializing in agriculture, meteorology, air pollution and geology. He concluded {that a} scanner that recorded a number of spectra of sunshine and vitality just like the one which had been used for native agricultural observations may very well be modified for the planetary work that the Geological Survey and NASA had in thoughts.

However first the scanner needed to safe a spot on the launch of NASA’s first Landsat satellite tv for pc. NASA and the Geological Survey deliberate to make use of a large three-camera system designed by RCA, based mostly on the tv tube know-how that had been used to map the moon. A lot of the shipments 4,000 pound payload was meant for RCA gear.

Ms Norwood and Hughes have been advised their Multi Spectral Scanner System, or MSS, may very well be included within the launch if it weighed not more than 100kg.

So Mrs. Norwood needed to downsize her machine to file solely 4 bands of vitality within the electromagnetic spectrum, as an alternative of the seven she had designed. The scanner additionally needed to be extremely correct. In her first design, every pixel represented 80 meters.

The machine had a 9-by-13-inch mirror that noisily flipped forwards and backwards inside it 13 occasions a second. Geological Survey and NASA scientists have been skeptical.

A senior engineer from Hughes took the machine out in a truck and drove to California to check it in hopes of convincing skeptics that it could work. He did it spectacularly. Ms. Norwood hung one of many photographs of the scanners, Yosemite Nationwide Parks Half Dome, on a wall in her dwelling for the remainder of her life.

The primary Landsat was launched into area on July 23, 1972. Two days later, the scanner despatched again the primary photographs, of the Ouachita Mountains in Oklahoma. they have been superb. Based on a 2021 article within the MIT Expertise Evaluate, a geologist was torn. One other, who was skeptical concerning the scanner, mentioned: I used to be so unsuitable about this. I am not going to eat crow. Not sufficiently big. I’ll eat crow.

The RCA system was purported to be the first recording instrument on the satellite tv for pc and the MSS a secondary experiment.

However as soon as we seemed on the information, the roles have been reversed, Stan Freden, the Landsat 1 venture scientist, mentioned in a NASA report.

MSS turned out to be not solely higher, but additionally extra dependable. Two weeks after liftoff, energy surges within the RCA camera-based system compromised the satellite tv for pc and the digital camera needed to be shut down.

Over the following 50 years, new Landsat satellites changed earlier ones. Ms. Norwood oversaw the event of Landsat 2, 3, 4 and 5. At the moment, Landsat 8 and 9 are in Earth orbit, and NASA plans to launch Landsat 10 in 2030. Every technology of satellites has added extra show prospects, however at all times based mostly on Ms. Norwoods unique concept.

The Landsat program has mapped modifications to the planet brought on by local weather change and human actions. They embody the near-disappearance of the Aral Sea between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the shrinking of the Nice Salt Flats in Utah, the evolving form of the Mississippi Delta, and deforestation and growing agricultural land use in Turkey and Brazil.

Virginia Tower was born on January 8, 1927, in Fort Totten, New York, to John Vogler and Eleanore (Monroe) Tower. Her mom was a housewife and likewise a linguist who spoke 9 languages. Her father was a embellished military colonel with a grasp’s diploma in physics and finally taught at Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon College) in Pittsburgh.

He inspired Virginia to review math and physics and made her first slide rule together with her when she was 9 years outdated. As a navy household, they moved incessantly, residing in Panama, Oklahoma and Bermuda, amongst different locations. Virginia attended 5 totally different excessive faculties earlier than graduating because the valedictorian of Germantown Excessive Faculty in Philadelphia.

Her faculty counselor advised she develop into a librarian, recommendation she ignored. As an alternative, she utilized to the Massachusetts Institute of Expertise, the place she was one among a few dozen ladies in her class.

The day after her commencement in 1947, she married Lawrence Norwood, a graduate scholar who was her third-semester calculus instructor. That they had three kids: Naomi, David and Peter. The wedding resulted in divorce and Ms Norwood married Maurice Schaeffer, who died in 2010. She is survived by Naomi and Peter. a sister, Barbara; 5 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

After graduating, Ms. Norwood confronted the prejudices that permeated society on the time, in response to the MIT and NASA articles. When she interviewed at Sikorsky Plane in Connecticut, she requested for a wage commensurate with the bottom grade within the civil service, however was advised the corporate would by no means pay a girl that a lot.

She withdrew her utility to a meals lab after being requested to vow to not get pregnant.

He had three interviews at Remington, the gun producer, through which he described how a employees mathematician may enhance the corporate’s operations. The hiring supervisor referred to as to say that her concept was good, however that the corporate was going to rent a person.

Determined, she acquired a job promoting ladies’s blouses at a division retailer in New Haven, Conn.

Finally she and her husband have been employed by the US Military Sign Corps Laboratories at Fort Monmouth, NJ. He labored within the climate radar division, the place he designed a radar reflector for climate balloons that would detect beforehand undetected winds at 100,000 ft.

He later moved to an antenna group, engaged on antennas that used microwaves. one among her designs stays labeled. In 1953, she and her husband moved to California, the place she went to work for the Sylvania Digital Protection Laboratories in Mountain View. He created the corporate’s first antenna lab.

A 12 months later, the couple moved to Los Angeles, the place she was employed by the analysis and growth division of Hughes Aircrafts, turning into the one girl among the many division’s 2,700 workers. In 1957, she was promoted to move of the microwave group within the firm’s rocket laboratory, turning into the primary Hughes girl to affix the technical employees.

One man, confronted with the prospect of getting Ms. Norwood as his boss, resigned, saying he didn’t wish to work for a girl, the MIT Expertise Evaluate article mentioned. He returned a number of years later asking for a job, however she turned him down.

In her new position, Ms. Norwood designed the transmitter and receiver for the world’s first communications satellite tv for pc. A number of years later, NASA despatched a lander referred to as Surveyor to the moon to find doable touchdown websites for astronauts. Her workforce designed the gear the lander used to speak with floor management.

Ms. Norwood was snug together with her mom’s nickname Landsat.

Sure, I prefer it and it’s apt, he mentioned. I created it, birthed it and fought for it.

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