3 days left to submit your Phase 2 design!


The Opioid Detection Challenge

A $1.2 million competition to advance how we measure Earth’s magnetic field.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency calls upon solvers to submit novel approaches to geomagnetic data collection for the World Magnetic Model.

In Phase 2, MagQuest seeks detailed designs for data collection methodologies.

A potential Phase 3 of the challenge will likely be restricted to winners or other selected Phase 2 solution providers, at the discretion of NGA.

Learn more
Watch the Phase 2 webinar recordings


10 winners were nominated by the judges according to the Phase 1 selection criteria. The total Phase 1 prize purse of $200,000 will be distributed evenly across Phase 1 winners.

Compact Spaceborne Magnetic Observatory (COSMO) CubeSat

University of Colorado Boulder
A CubeSat solution specifically designed and tested for magnetic cleanliness and accurate data from a compact form factor. A compact, scalar-vector magnetometer and a novel deployable boom enable high-quality data to be collected from a CubeSat.

CubeSat-powered Geomagnetic Data Collection

Spire Global
A global constellation of 75 CubeSats carrying custom magnetometer payloads. This system could leverage Spire’s existing infrastructure for satellites, ground stations, and data processing.

Diamonds in the Sky: Vector Magnetometry for Space and Airborne Platforms

SB Technologies Inc
Diamond magnetometer (Qmag) technology integrated into a network of CubeSats and commercial airplanes. The compact Qmag would decrease cost and improve integration across platforms.

Distributed Network of Microsensors Onboard Picosatellites

A swarm of picosatellites in Low Earth Orbit mapping the magnetic field. This solution would keep costs low by minimizing the required functionality, mass, and volume of each individual satellite.

EOI Pathfinder with Magnetometry Suite

Earth Observant Inc.
Magnetometry payload added to the planned Pathfinder satellite mission. This solution would capture magnetic data during the primary mission’s downtime.

Equatorial Ground Observations and Scalar Satellite Mission

Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences
Permanent geomagnetic ground stations at the equator paired with a scalar satellite mission. By defining the exact location of the magnetic equator, the necessary data could be collected with a satellite mission of decreased cost and complexity.

Global Acquisition of Magnetic Measurements at Altitude (GAMMA)

Stellar Solutions
Adding magnetometers as hosted payloads to planned satellite launches with optional integration of ground-based sensors. The combination of spaceborne and terrestrial data could increase coverage and decrease risk.

MagSAT: Magnetic Field Mapping NanoSat Constellation

A constellation of nanosatellites with self-calibrating, solid-state magnetometers. The proposed magnetometer could decrease cost and complexity while not being affected by the same environmental conditions as a traditional magnetometer.

Oceanic Observations from Autonomous Profiling Floats

University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory with partner Oregon State University
The addition of magnetometers to existing autonomous ocean platforms. Sensors could be deployed at scale, yielding continuous sea surface and subsurface magnetic field data.

Terrestrial and Seafloor Automated Magnetic Observatories

Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium
An international network of automated magnetic observatories on land and the seafloor. The observatories could be deployed at almost any global location; automation could deliver continuous data while decreasing staffing and support needs.
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About the Challenge

What is the World Magnetic Model?

Earth is a giant magnet. Compasses — both digital and analog — are oriented by the magnetic force at a user’s location. Since geographic and magnetic poles do not align, geomagnetic models like the World Magnetic Model (WMM) correct for this difference.

As the Earth’s magnetic field is constantly changing, the difference between geographic and magnetic poles also changes, and the WMM must be regularly updated.

An opportunity to rethink geomagnetic data collection

Production of the WMM currently uses space-based magnetic field measurements that the European Space Agency (ESA) Swarm mission has provided since 2013. Swarm mission satellites contain several instruments capable of producing a variety of measurements, including magnetic vector field measurements. To ensure sustainability of the WMM, the U.S. government is taking a proactive approach to identifying new methods of data collection independent of Swarm.

The World Magnetic Model is used every day around the world

The WMM is embedded in thousands of systems. More than a billion smartphone users depend on the WMM to point them in the right direction when they use mobile navigation apps. Drivers rely on the WMM to power the compasses in their cars. The WMM is also critical for military and commercial uses around the world. Among other applications, it supports navigation and attitude determination for submarines, satellites, and aircraft, while also informing operational logistics like the numbering of runways.

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  • Call for phase 1 submissions
    March 21, 2019
  • Phase 1 submission deadline
    May 16, 2019
  • Phase 1 winners announced
    June 20, 2019
  • Call for Phase 2 submissions
    June 20, 2019
  • Webinar: Phase 2 overview
    July 10, 2019
  • Webinar: Technical considerations
    July 24, 2019
  • current stageWebinar: Program management considerations
    July 30, 2019
  • Phase 2 submission deadline
    August 28, 2019
  • Phase 2 winners announced
    September 2019

Phase 2 is open to solvers from Phase 1, as well as new solvers who did not participate in the first phase of the challenge.

Detailed Schedule



$1 million

Phase 1 awarded $200,000. At NGA’s discretion, additional phases of the challenge may follow Phase 2. These phases, if executed, are anticipated to award an additional $2.5 million in cash prizes plus potential nonmonetary incentives.  

A potential Phase 3 of the challenge will likely be restricted to winners or other selected Phase 2 solution providers, at the discretion of NGA.

Award Details

Judging Panel

The independent judging panel includes distinguished experts across ground, air, and space platforms; sensor and data analysis technology; geomagnetism; and the WMM.

Meet the judges

How to enter
the challenge

Phase 2 is open to solvers from Phase 1, as well as new solvers who did not participate in the first phase of the challenge.

Review the Rules, Terms & Conditions for detailed eligibility and other requirements.