Domain Knowledge Maps

Domain Knowledge Maps (DKM) were invented and formalized within ABEX and serve as a standardized method for spacecraft engineering education for programs with high workforce turnover rates necessitating fast onboarding procedures. Ontologies are one of the four pillars of Model-Based Systems Engineering, and DKMs are applications of an ontology specific to a given domain. The process is handled in four steps:

  1. ABEX leadership will define a domain ontology over several Design Analysis Cycles with the help of students. The top-level ontology is the Mission Planning Ontology (MPO), and domain ontologies derive from the MPO.
    1. Technical Analysis Domain: All hardware analysis is organized here. Examples of ontological categories include Scalar Parameters, States, and Modeling Environments.
    2. Software Development Domain: Concepts regarding software development are organized here. Examples of ontological categories include components, ports, and topologies. This domain is specific to the F Prime software framework from the Jet Propulsion Lab.
    3. Prognostic Health Management Domain: Concepts relating to the health and safety of spacecraft avionics are organized here. Examples of ontological categories include faults, errors, and Single Event Effects.
  2. Students create Domain Knowledge Maps as applications of the domain ontologies. Instead of the category Scalar Parameter, an instance would be defined on a DKM for a scalar parameter, e.g. Solar Array Area or Battery Depth of Discharge. DKMs are iterated on many times until students, faculty, and leadership are in agreement on concept representation. DKMs are documented in Analysis Plans and Development & Integration Plans.
  3. Students execute the methodology and concepts defined in the DKM and report on their findings. This is akin to performing modeling and simulation with an explicit guide for the calculations performed, the inputs for the calculations, and where those inputs come from.
  4. DKMs are imported into the ABEX Knowledge Management Platform, a tool for online spacecraft and systems engineering education where the ontologies and DKMs are brought to life. Easy access to difficult topics for everyone is the goal. The Knowledge Management Platform will be published in Fall 2022.

Ontologies can be represented in the Web Ontology Language, the Ontology Modeling Language, or in a N2 diagram. An example of the Technical Analysis Domain ontology and two Domain Knowledge Maps are provided.