The Opioid Detection Challenge

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

In 2019, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency called upon solvers to submit novel approaches to geomagnetic data collection for the World Magnetic Model.

Meet the Winners
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Phase 2 winners:

5 winners were nominated by the judges according to the Phase 2 selection criteria. The total Phase 2 prize pool of $1,000,000 will be distributed evenly across Phase 2 winners.

Compact Spaceborne Magnetic Observatory (COSMO) CubeSat

University of Colorado Boulder
A CubeSat specifically designed and tested for magnetic cleanliness and accurate data from a compact form factor. A compact, scalar-vector magnetometer — a miniaturized version of the magnetometer used by Swarm — enables high-quality data collection.

CubeSat-powered Geomagnetic Data Collection

Spire Global
A global constellation of CubeSats that could provide greater redundancy and increased data quality. This system brings modified commercial magnetic sensor technology to Spire’s existing infrastructure for satellites, ground stations, and data processing.

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.

Small Integrated Geomagnetic Array (SIGMA)

Iota Technology
A CubeSat with eight magnetometers; the 3D array could provide greater precision and accuracy than a comparable fluxgate magnetometer. The design is in collaboration with AAC Clyde Space, a small satellite manufacturer.

Terrestrial and Seafloor Automated Magnetic Observatories

Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium
An international network of 103 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.
Learn more

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

  • Compact Spaceborne Magnetic Observatory (COSMO) CubeSat | University of Colorado Boulder
  • CubeSat-powered Geomagnetic Data Collection | Spire Global
  • Diamonds in the Sky: Vector Magnetometry for Space and Airborne Platforms | SB Technologies Inc
  • Distributed Network of Microsensors Onboard Picosatellites | Pumpkin
  • EOI Pathfinder with Magnetometry Suite | Earth Observant Inc.
  • Equatorial Ground Observations and Scalar Satellite Mission | Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences
  • Global Acquisition of Magnetic Measurements at Altitude (GAMMA) | Stellar Solutions
  • MagSAT: Magnetic Field Mapping NanoSat Constellation | Hypergiant
  • Oceanic Observations from Autonomous Profiling Floats | University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory with partner Oregon State University
  • Terrestrial and Seafloor Automated Magnetic Observatories | Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium

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.

Phase 1
March 21, 2019 – May 16, 2019
Open to all eligible solvers

In Phase 1, the challenge sought concepts that proposed novel methods or technologies to collect geomagnetic data for the World Magnetic Model.

Phase 2
June 21, 2019 – August 28, 2019
Open to all eligible solvers

In Phase 2, the challenge sought detailed designs and plans for data collection methodologies, including a concept of operations, a description of expected performance and potential risks, and an overview of potential future program management.

Potential Phases 3 and 4

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.

At NGA’s discretion, additional phases of the challenge may follow Phase 2. These phases, if executed, are anticipated to award additional cash prizes plus potential nonmonetary incentives.

Interested in getting involved in potential future phases? Email hello@magquest.com

Awards

PHASES 1-2 TOTAL PRIZE POOL

$1.2 million

The first two phases (March 2019 through September 2019) awarded $1.2 million. At NGA’s discretion, additional phases of the challenge may follow Phase 2.

Award Details

Judging Panel

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

Meet the judges

Resources

MagQuest provided informational resources for solvers as they developed their Phase 1 and 2 submissions.

Phase 2 was open to solvers from Phase 1, as well as new solvers who did not participate in Phase 1. In Phase 2, MagQuest provided a Solver Community to support solvers interested in expanding their teams.

See the Resources