The World Magnetic Model

The following resources detail the history and ongoing development of the World Magnetic Model.


The following resources detail technologies that are used to collect data for the World Magnetic Model or may be potential alternatives.

Potential solution areas

The following examples demonstrate a range of solutions that could be submitted. Note that this list is illustrative, and is not a comprehensive list of all potential solution areas

  • Spaceborne. A solution that integrates one or more small or large satellites, or proposes adding instrumentation to an unrelated mission as a hosted payload.
  • Terrestrial. A solution that indicates how the existing ground observatories or mobile technology could be leveraged.
  • Aerial. A solution that proposes drones, balloons, or other aerial technology.
  • Data analysis. A solution that proposes how available data sources could be utilized through new advancement in data modeling and processing techniques. (Reminder: the Challenge does not ask solvers for alternate methods of creating the WMM; it asks solvers to identify new data sources to inform the current WMM production.)

Target performance metrics

MagQuest seeks solutions that will capture data sufficient to produce the World Magnetic Model. The performance specifications below represent target thresholds for solutions to consider. In Phase 1, these specifications are intended to provide guidance, as demonstration of performance will not be required until later phases.

Measurement Specification
Measurement geographic distribution Sufficient number of homogeneously distributed points that would satisfy the Nyquist criterion (for example, 162 points as specified by Langel et al1) for a model complete to degree and order 12 along with its secular variation

  1. Either at earth’s surface or sea floor, or up to 800 km altitude
  2. Each within about 2 degrees2 from the nodes of an equal area spherical or ellipsoidal grid
Measurement positioning and timing accuracy Preferably provided by dual frequency GPS receiver and with specifications similar to previous satellite mission performance (e.g., Ørsted, Swarm3)
Measurement accuracy (In geographic frame) < 5 nT per component accuracy
Measurement precision (In geographic frame) < 1 nT per component precision
Measurement sampling rate At least 1 measurement passing by each node every 30 days (1) At least 1 measurement per minute (ground-based) (2) Satellite and airborne measurements (a) at least 1 measurement per second when passing near the nodes of the equal area grid defined above
Measurement range -70,000 to 70,000 nT
Measurement time interval Minimum requirement: at least 3 years Preferred: continuous measurement solutions

  [1] A. Langel, R & T. Baldwin, R & W. Green, A. (1995). Toward an Improved Distribution of Magnetic Observatories for Modeling of the Main Geomagnetic Field and Its Temporal Change. Journal of geomagnetism and geoelectricity. [2] This angular distance is a best guess and is not based on any quantitative analysis. [3] Swarm (Geomagnetic LEO Constellation). European Space Agency.