2003 Thurlow Award

Presented to: Dr. John G. Mark

Citation: For outstanding contributions to the advancement of navigation technology; in particular for the pioneering development and continuing improvement of strapdown inertial navigation systems.


Dr. John G. Mark is a recognized international authority on inertial and multi-sensor navigation and a pioneer in the field of strapdown inertial systems. During his career at Litton, Dr. Mark has been at the forefront of navigation technology and has made outstanding contributions in all areas in the field. He has played a key role in four generations of inertial navigation systems.

Dr. Mark is one of Litton's (now Northrop Grumman) most prolific inventors. He holds over 45 patents with more pending. His inventions cover all aspects of navigation systems. He has pioneering patents in strapdown methods, dither control of ring laser gyro's, correction of RLG errors, multi-oscillator gyro designs, fiber optic gyro designs, low noise electronics, fiber optic gyro control, spread spectrum modulation, system compensation, altitude damping, and nuclear magnetic resonance devices among others. He has written more than two dozen technical journals and text book publications.

He is the inventor of most strapdown algorithms used in Litton navigation systems. Beginning in 1973, Dr. Mark developed the first Litton strapdown navigation algorithms using highly efficient real-time implementations and demonstrated 1nmi/hr flight performance in 1975 using tuned rotor gyros. At that time, he successfully developed fast fixed point algorithms that match and in some cases exceed the performance of double precision floating point algorithms in use today.

Dr. Mark extended this work to RLGs and multi-oscillator gyros throughout the 1980s enabling operation of strapdown navigation systems in very highly dynamic environments. The code, algorithms, and techniques developed at that time continue to be used today. In the late 1980s, with the advent of GPS, Dr. Mark was heavily involved in the development of the embedded GPS-inertial systems. During the 1990s, he was instrumental in developing the first production fiber-optic gyro systems as well as high performance redundant inertial measurement units for control of inherently unstable airframes such as the Eurofighter.

Dr. Mark has always unselfishly shared his knowledge with others, has diligently mentored many of the leading engineers and scientists working in navigation, and has personally trained the next generation of leading navigation systems engineers.

Dr. Mark did his undergraduate work at MIT and received his Ph.D. in applied mathematics from USC in 1973.