NASA Mars helicopter, Ingenuity

A year ago, on July 30, 2020, NASA launched Perseverance rover to continue studying signs of life on Mars. The equipment was sent aboard the Atlas-V rocket. Inside the rover, the Mars helicopter, Ingenuity, a technology demonstration to test powered, controlled flight on another world for the first time. How did the rocket scientists at NASA know how to build a helicopter that would fly on Mars? They first built a digital twin.

NASA first created a virtual Mars and a virtual helicopter with all the inputs and environments required. It tested, changed, and adapted using virtual systems because by the time NASA got to Mars, it would be too late to make modifications: the minimum distance from the Earth to Mars is about 54.6 million kilometers, about 350 travel days.

A proof that digital twin technology is quickly becoming a core part of engineering.

Digital twin technology has actually been a concept practiced by NASA space program since the 1960s. An example is thedeveloped a digital twin to assess and simulate conditions on board Apollo 13.

But that’s another story…