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Digital Twins and Living Models at NASAThe idea of a “digital twin” was born at NASA in the 1960s as a “living model” of the Apollo mission. In response to Apollo 13’s oxygen tank explosion and subsequent damage to the main engine, NASA employed multiple simulators to evaluate the failure and extended a physical model of the vehicle to include digital components. This “digital twin” was the first of its kind, allowing for a continuous ingestion of data to model the events leading to up to the accident for forensic analysis and exploration of next steps. Fast forward half a century and NASA, along with others in the aerospace community, continues to develop and utilize high-fidelity digital models of physical systems and components as well as the extreme environments in which they operate. NASA aims to travel further and stay longer in space as we realize the Artemis program, taking us from the moon to Mars by establishing a sustainable presence on the Moon to prepare for missions to Mars. We will no longer be able to rely on constant connectivity with an asset nor be in-the-loop for on-demand human intervention in the event of an anomaly. Further, the importance of digital twins is increasing as we seek alternatives for certification of structures so large that they cannot be fully evaluated in existing test facilities and autonomous systems that are not deterministic. The idea of a digital twin is not a new one. What is new is the scale, ordinality, and non-deterministic nature of the models that are critical to achieving NASA’s goals. Their number and autonomy from each other as well as the reference system is suggestive of a changing ecosystem, returning us the idea of a living model.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Langley Research Center
Document Type
B Danette Allen
(Langley Research Center Hampton, Virginia, United States)
Date Acquired
November 1, 2021
Subject Category
Cybernetics, Artificial Intelligence And Robotics
Meeting Information
Meeting: Digital Twin Summit
Location: Virtual
Country: US
Start Date: November 3, 2021
End Date: November 4, 2021
Sponsors: American Society of Mechanical Engineers
Funding Number(s)
WBS: 090265.01.09.07
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
Technical Review
Single Expert
Digital Twin
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