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Martin Lo

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Martin Lo

Martin Wen-Yu Lo is an American mathematician who currently works as a spacecraft trajectory expert at the NASA-owned Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Martin Lo is well known for discovering the Interplanetary Superhighway, also known as the Interplanetary Transport Network. The superhighway is created by combined gravitational forces of several planets that connects planets by a network of “tunnels” and is the most efficient way to navigate the solar system.[1] This continues to be his main area of research.


Lo received his Bachelor of Science in mathematics in 1975 from the California Institute of Technology and his PhD in mathematics in 1980 from Cornell University under the supervision of Richard S. Hamilton and George Roger Livesay.[2][3]

He has been a research scientist in the Navigation and Mission Design Section at the JPL since 1986.[4]

In 2000, Lo, Kathleen Howell, and other scientists from the JPL developed the LTool program[5][6] to calculate paths near Lagrange points (ITN paths). Compared with previous methods, LTool is capable of predicting orbits up to 50 times faster. They used this tool to calculate the trajectory for the Genesis mission (2001, NASA) trajectory, which took days rather than 8 weeks.[7] The trajectory makes use of gravitational tugs of objects in the way of the spacecraft, ensuring minimal fuel use on the return journey.[8] They called this trajectory the Interplanetary Superhighway.[9] He also designed the trajectory for SpaceDev's SmallTug.[10] LTool was nominated for the Discover Innovation Award.[11] He is the leader of the Lagrange Group, which is an interdisciplinary and international group of researchers and STEM experts from universities, NASA centers, and industry.[12] Their focus is on developing nonlinear astrodynamics techniques with applications to space missions and dynamical astronomy.[2]

Lo appeared in Werner Herzog's film The Wild Blue Yonder in 2005.[13]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Martin was awarded the NOGLSTP LGBTQ Scientist of the Year in 2012.[14]

Nominated for a Discover Innovation Award by Discover magazine for work on the Interplanetary Superhighway.[11]


  1. ^ "CNN.com - New planet freeway could transform space travel - July 22, 2002". www.cnn.com. Retrieved 2021-10-08.
  2. ^ a b "Genesis : Search for Origins | Team | Martin Lo | Resume | JPL | NASA". solarsystem.nasa.gov. Retrieved 2021-10-08.
  3. ^ https://www.mathgenealogy.org/id.php?id=125529
  4. ^ "Martin Lo Personal". www.gg.caltech.edu. Retrieved 2019-07-22.
  5. ^ Martin W. Lo and Roby S. Wilson The LTool Package
  6. ^ Martin Lo, LTool Version 1.0G delivery memorandum // JPL TRS 1992+, 29-Sep-2000
  7. ^ Lo, Martin; Williams, Bobby; Bollman, Williard; Han, Dongsuk; Hahn, Yungsun; Bell, Julia; Hirst, Edward; Corwin, Robert; Hong, Philip (1998-08-10), "Genesis mission design", AIAA/AAS Astrodynamics Specialist Conference and Exhibit, Guidance, Navigation, and Control and Co-located Conferences, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, doi:10.2514/6.1998-4468, retrieved 2021-10-08
  8. ^ Khatri, Aadhya (Jun 27, 2019). "Mathematicians Discovered That Straight Line Is Not The Fastest Way Through Space". m.mobygeek.com. Retrieved 2019-07-22.
  9. ^ "Math Awareness Month". www.mathaware.org. Archived from the original on 2019-09-13. Retrieved 2019-07-22.
  10. ^ Hecht, Jeff. "Spacecraft to travel 'interplanetary superhighway'". New Scientist. Retrieved 2021-10-08.
  12. ^ "Why Do Math? - Space Travel". www.whydomath.org. Retrieved 2021-10-08.
  13. ^ Felperin, Leslie (2005-09-06). "The Wild Blue Yonder". Variety. Retrieved 2019-07-22.
  14. ^ "2012 NOGLSTP Recognition Awards Announced: Lo, Lickel, Pope, and Ross receive top honors". NOGLSTP. Retrieved 2019-02-20.

External links[edit]