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.

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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 north 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.

Learn more


  • Call for phase 1 submissions
    March 21, 2019
  • current stagePhase 1 submission deadline
    May 16, 2019
  • Phase 1 winners announced
    June 2019
  • Call for phase 2 submissions
    June 2019
  • Phase 2 submission deadline
    August 2019
  • Phase 2 winners announced
    September 2019

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

Detailed Schedule



$1.2 million

The first two phases (March 2019 through September 2019) will award $1.2 million. 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.  

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

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