In June, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) announced 10 winners in the first phase of MagQuest and launched Phase 2 of the global competition. NGA is now accepting detailed designs and plans for geomagnetic data collection methodologies for the World Magnetic Model, including a Concept of Operations, a description of expected performance and potential risks, and an overview of potential future program management. 

In the recent Phase 2 informational webinar, MagQuest welcomed Michael Paniccia, Angelique Garcia, Christopher Vasko, and Michael Wenkel from NGA, as well as Dr. Arnaud Chulliat from the University of Colorado Boulder and NOAA/NCEI. The challenge team covered the key differences between Phase 1 and Phase 2, including desired format and fidelity of solutions, and the new opportunity to explore collaboration opportunities by joining the MagQuest solver community. Watch the webinar recording and see a summary of questions asked by attendees during the live Q&A. 

Top questions asked during the Q&A session

How does a dedicated mission compare to a secondary WMM mission? Most of the submissions were add-on sensors to existing missions; ours is a dedicated mission. Does that harm or help us?
All other things being equal, there is no preference for either a dedicated or secondary mission. 

What exactly is meant by “data analysis” on the MagQuest solver community page?
Level 1 data is needed for the WMM — which means data is fully calibrated. In the case of vector magnetometer data, orientation is also needed. Either the rotation is applied to the magnetic field or information is provided to apply this rotation. The more ancillary data provided, the more information that can inform the calibration process, and the better for WMM calculation.

Is an industry / academia team acceptable? Are there any terms in the split of award funds in this case?
As noted in the Rules, Terms & Conditions, any eligible individuals or legal entities can form a team. Monetary prizes will be paid directly to the designated team lead by Luminary Labs. Monetary prize winner(s) distribute prize money among team members at their own discretion and will be responsible for any applicable local, state, and federal taxes and reporting that may be required under applicable tax laws.

Join the final Phase 2 webinar on July 30

Register for our July 30 webinar to hear from Dr. James Cutler from the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan. Dr. Cutler will discuss how solvers might approach the Concept of Operations (ConOps) for their Phase 2 submissions, as well as program management considerations for risk assessment, schedule, budget, and team structure.

Phase 2 submissions are due by 4:59 p.m. EDT on August 28, 2019. The independent judging panel will help select up to five winners according to the Phase 2 selection criteria and target performance metrics. If you have questions that aren’t addressed in the FAQ, please contact us at

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