Space Travel via Chaotic Transport

Martin Lo

Our Solar System is interconnected by a vast system of
invariant manifolds of unstable orbits. These manifolds provide very
low-energy trajectories for transport throughout the Solar System.
Comets and asteroids like ShoemakerLevy9 have traveled these ancient
pathways for eons. They also provide efficient trajectories for
spacecraft. The Genesis mission is currently flying in such an orbit to
collect and return solar wind samples to Utah, USA in 2004. The Jupiter
Icy Moons Orbiter, Terrestrial Planet Finder, Darwin, and the Lunar L1
Gateway missions are all considering using these orbits.


Dr. Martin Lo is a mission designer in the Navigation and
Mission Design Section at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California
Institute of Technology. While applying “chaos theory” to design the
Genesis mission, he conceived the concept that the Solar System is interconnected by invariant manifolds of unstable orbits which provide
ultra low-energy transport. He and his colleagues, the Lagrange Group,
have been developing this concept and applying it to many other space
missions as well as problems in dynamical astronomy. This concept is
crucial to NASA’s vision to extend human presence beyond Low Earth Orbit
to a Gateway Module orbiting the Lunar L1 Lagrange Point for human
servicing of deep space missions in the Earth’s Neighborhood and to
Mars. This concept also suggested the novel approach to serially orbit
the icy moons of Jupiter using the Jovian Interplanetary Superhighway
which contributed to the Prometheus Program’s Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter
mission (JIMO). He is currently developing this technology for the
Terrestrial Planet Finder and the JIMO missions. He received a BS from
Caltech in 1975 and a PhD from Cornell University in 1980 in mathematics.

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