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Judges will use the Phase 2 selection criteria to nominate the Phase 2 winners, which will be submitted to NGA for final approval. Should the volume of submissions exceed the capacity of the judges to conduct a thorough evaluation of the submissions, a review panel may conduct a preliminary review of eligible entries to determine the subset reviewed by the independent judging panel. A scoring rubric that provides greater detail for Phase 2 selection criteria will be released during the Phase 2 open submissions period.

Phase 2 Selection Criteria and Target Performance Metrics

Selection Criteria

When evaluating Phase 2 submissions, judges will assign each submission one to five points in each of the categories below (for a maximum of 25 points).

  • Performance. The degree to which the integrated design (including sensor, platform, and data analysis) indicates an ability to achieve or exceed the necessary data requirements for production of the WMM (see target performance metrics below).
  • Technical Feasibility. The extent to which the design uses technically sound methods, the solver identifies potential risks, and proposes credible mitigation strategies.
  • Operational Feasibility and Cost Fidelity. The degree to which the design accounts for real-world implementation and operation in the near term (e.g., 5 years), as well as the ability to continuously and reliably collect data for several WMM iterations (e.g., 30 years).
  • Innovation. The degree to which the design creates potential efficiencies in time, money, or other resources.
  • Team. The extent to which the solver or team demonstrates sufficient expertise that may be needed to advance their integrated design to a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of at least 5, and preferably 6, within a potential timeframe of two years (e.g., by September 2021). (see Technology Readiness Assessment in Additional Resources for more information on TRLs)

Target Performance Metrics

MagQuest seeks solutions that will capture data sufficient to produce the World Magnetic Model. The performance specifications below represent thresholds for solutions to consider. In Phase 2, these specifications are intended to provide guidance and solvers should consider how they could demonstrate performance in a potential Phase 3. These target performance metrics are an updated version of the information provided in Phase 1.

Measurement Specification
Measurement location Sufficient number of homogeneously distributed points around Earth for a model complete to degree and order 12 along with its secular variation meeting the WMM performance specification
  1. Spaceborne solution: low-Earth (up to 800 km altitude), near-polar orbits with polar gaps not exceeding 9 degrees
  2. Terrestrial / aerial solution: each point within 2 degrees from the nodes of an equal area spherical or ellipsoidal grid of at least 70 points
Measurement positioning and timing accuracy Preferably provided by dual frequency GPS receiver and with specifications similar to previous satellite mission performance (e.g., Ørsted, Swarm)
Measurement accuracy

In geographic frame, after accounting for orientation/attitude error, crustal biases, spacecraft/aircraft fields, biases due to temperature effects, mechanical noise, and any other systematic noise source

  1. Spaceborne solution: < 20 nT per component
  2. Terrestrial solution: < 5 nT per component
  3. Aerial solution: < 20 nT per component
Measurement precision

In geographic frame, see also preamble of “Measurement accuracy” for details

 < 1 nT per component precision

Measurement sampling rate
  1. Spaceborne solution: at least 1 measurement per second
  2. Terrestrial solution: at least one measurement per minute
  3. Aerial solution: (a) at least 1 measurement per second when passing near the nodes of the equal area grid defined above; (b) at least 1 measurement passing by each node every 30 days
Measurement range -70,000 to 70,000 nT
Measurement time span

Minimum requirement: at least 3 years 

Preferred: continuous measurement solutions

Measurement data latency

Minimum requirement: less than one year

Preferred: less than 3 months




Phase 1 Selection Criteria

The judging panel used the Phase 1 selection criteria to nominate ten winners from the pool of eligible entries in Phase 1, which were submitted to the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) for final approval.

When evaluating Phase 1 submissions, judges assigned each submission one to five points in each of the categories below, for a maximum of 25 points.

  • Performance. The degree to which the concept could achieve or exceed the necessary data requirements for production of the WMM (see target performance metrics in Additional Resources).
  • Technical Feasibility. The extent to which the concept uses technically sound methods and the solver identifies critical assumptions and risks.
  • Operational Feasibility. The degree to which the concept accounts for and addresses real-world implementation, and the ability to continuously and reliably collect data for several WMM iterations (e.g., 20 years).
  • Innovation. The degree to which the concept creates potential efficiencies in time, money, or other resources.
  • Team. The extent to which the solver or team demonstrates expertise or recognizes what additional capabilities may be needed to advance their concept.