Celebrating Women in STEM
By The Satellogic Team
We are committed to recognizing women who, despite societal opposition and professional obstacles, contributed to some of humanity’s greatest scientific achievements.
In 2018, we began what would become a celebrated tradition: naming our satellites after remarkable women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
Thus far, we have chosen these 19 courageous pioneers who made discoveries and significant contributions to their respective fields that changed the world forever:
Ada Lovelace (NewSat-4) 1815-1852
Considered the world’s first computer programmer, Ada recognized Babbage’s Analytical Machine (general purpose computer) had potential for applications beyond pure calculation and even published the first algorithm intended to be carried out by such a machine.
Maryam Mirzakhani (NewSat-5) 1977-2017
The first woman and Iranian to receive the Fields Medal, Maryam was a world-renown mathematician and Ivy League professor. She is celebrated for her research in hyperbolic geometry, ergodic theory, symplectic geometry, and Teichmüller theory.
Hypatia (NewSat-6) 360-415
The earliest known woman of Greek academia, Hypatia was a celebrated Neoplatonist philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician studying and teaching across Egypt, Alexandria, and the Roman Empire. Despite her status as the best mathematician of the age, she was murdered by Christian zealots who claimed she was a witch.
Sophie Germain (NewSat-7) 1776-1831
A self-taught physicist, mathematician, and philosopher, Sophie defied her family to pursue her education. She developed theories on elasticity used to design the Eiffel Tower, which earned her the grand prize from the French Academy of Sciences, and made the first contribution to Fermat’s Last Theorem.
Marie Curie (NewSat-8) 1867-1934
Initially educated through informal underground classes, Marie went on to become the first woman graduate and professor in France. Recognized for her theory of radioactivity, advancement of x-ray technology, and the discovery of two elements, She was also the first woman awarded a Nobel Prize and first scientist to receive two Nobel Prizes.
Alice Ball (NewSat-9) 1892-1916
A chemist and inventor of the “Ball Method”, Alice made history by developing the most effective treatment for leprosy during the early 20th century—a highly stigmatized disease that left most patients exiled with no hope of recovery. She was also the first woman and first African American to earn a master’s degree from the University of Hawaii.
Caroline Herschel (NewSat-10) 1750-1848
An astronomer recognized for her discovery of comets, Caroline also gained notoriety for her many firsts. Over the course of her long careers she would become the first woman to: receive a salary as a scientist, hold a government position in England, publish scientific findings in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, become an Honorary Member of the Royal Astronomical Society and receive its Gold Medal award.
Cora Ratto (NewSat-11) 1912-1981
Mathematician, professor, and life-long activist, Cora devoted much of her life to combating powers of oppression, discrimination, and racism across the world. Academically, she published textbooks and organized advanced college courses at the University of Buenos Aires, later establishing the Albert Einstein Foundation, a university-wide scholarship program.
Dorothy Vaughan (NewSat-12)1910-2008
A mathematician and (human) computer, Dorothy became the first African-American woman acting supervisor at Langley Research Center. She taught herself and her staff the programming language FORTRAN, and later headed the programming section of the Analysis and Computation Division (ACD) at Langley.
Emmy Noether (NewSat-13) 1882-1935
A prominent mathematician, Emmy developed the Noether’s theorem (fundamental to mathematical physics with great impact on classical and quantum mechanics) and made groundbreaking contributions to abstract algebra. She was a celebrated professor at universities worldwide by students and icons like Einstein and Alexandrov, but often unpaid for her work.
Hedy Lamarr (NewSat-14) 1914-2000
Actor, film producer, and inventor, Hedy’s tinkering led to an improved traffic stoplight and a dissolvable tablet for drinks. Most importantly, however, she designed and patented a frequency-hopping signal for torpedoes to eliminate tracking and jamming. An updated version was installed on US Navy ships in 1962 amid the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Katherine Johnson (NewSat-15) 1918-2020
A gifted mathematician, Katherine calculated the orbital mechanics that put the first man in space (and many subsequent crewed missions). She became the first African-American woman scientists at NASA and achieved many awards during her 33-year career. NASA’s mission operations center in Houston Texas was renamed in her honor.
Lise Meitner (NewSat-16) 1878-1968
A leading physicist, Lise was the second woman in the world to earn a doctorate in physics and the first from University of Vienna, where she discovered the element protactinium and became the first woman professor in Germany. Due to the anti-jewish Nuremburg Laws, she lost her position and fled to Sweden where she later discovered nuclear fission.
Mary Jackson (NewSat-17) 1921-2005
After successfully petitioning to attend all-white classes required for the advancement of her career, Mary became the first African-American engineer at NASA. She authored 12 technical papers, achieved the highest level position in her department, and championed the promotion of women and minorities across NASA NASA’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. was renamed in her honor.
Vera Rubin (NewSat-18) 1928-2016
A pioneering astronomer, Vera’s observations included the first evidence of dark matter and galactic superclusters. She became the first woman astronomer at Palomar Observatory (Carnegie Institute) and was an active advocate for women in science. She was the second woman to receive the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, following Caroline Herschel in 1828.
Rosalind Franklin (NewSat-19) 1920-1958
Many decades after her untimely death, Rosalind was recognized as a key contributor to one of the most important discoveries in history: DNA. As a chemist and X-ray crystallographer, she helped reveal the double helix shape of DNA and built the foundation for the field of structural virology through her RNA research.
Grace Hopper (NewSat-20) 1906-1992
A computer pioneer and naval officer, Grace invented the first compiler and developed the first programming languages (COBOL and FORTRAN). Among many other achievements, she retired as the oldest living Naval officer, rising to the rank of Rear Admiral—and will forever reign as the Queen of Code.
Elisa Bachofen (NewSat-21) 1891-1976
The first female civil engineer in Latin America and prominent member of the National Feminist Union in Argentina, Elisa rose to the role of president at the National Institute of Industrial Technology. Later, she finished a successful career at the National Commission for Universal Decimal Classification.
Sofya Kovalevskaya (NewSat-22) 1850-1891
A true scientific pioneer, Sofya was the first woman to obtain the equivalent of a modern doctorate in mathematics, became the first woman professor in Europe as well as the first woman editor of a scientific journal. She is most well-known for her contributions in differential equations, most notably the Cauchy–Kovalevskaya theorem.
Women and gender minorities are under-represented across STEM fields–and not for lack of interest. We hope by sharing these legacies we shine a light on the importance of diversity in science and inspire minds around the world to pursue their curiosity.