NGA Offers Geomagnetic Data Collection Contest
The intel mapping agency hopes that the challenge will spur innovation.
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, headquartered in Springfield, Virginia, today announced the launch of MagQuest, its $1.2 million global open innovation challenge, seeking advanced approaches to geomagnetic data collection.
Specifically, the NGA, as it is known, is looking for innovative approaches to geomagnetic data for use in the World Magnetic Model (WMM), which was created by the agency and the United Kingdom’s Defence Geographic Centre to provide precise orientation by measuring the Earth’s magnetic field and the difference between geographic and magnetic north, since the field is constantly changing. The WMM is embedded in billions of devices worldwide for mobile navigation, as well as use by military and commercial navigation and attitude purposes.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the British Geological Survey (BGS) update the WMM every five years to account for the changes. They rely on space-based magnetic field measurements that the European Space Agency (ESA) Swarm mission has provided since 2013.
NGA reported that the WMM had to be updated out-of-cycle earlier this year because of erratic movement of the north magnetic pole. The agency is conducting the MagQuest contest to find new methods of data collection independent of Swarm, to proactively ensure the sustainability of the WMM.
“Anyone who uses GPS relies on the World Magnetic Model,” said Richard Salman, director of NGA’s Office of Geomatics. “MagQuest is a critical component of NGA’s work to develop a new system for measuring Earth's geomagnetic field to power the future of navigation.”
The agency emphasized that small businesses, academic institutions, labs, startups and other organizations are encouraged to enter the competition. NGA encouraged contestants to apply their expertise to spaceborne, aerial, terrestrial and other potential solution areas.
The MagQuest contest is open to domestic and international participants. Interested contestants should submit their concepts by 4:59 p.m. EDT, May 16, 2019.
According to the agency, up to 10 Phase 1 winners will be selected by an independent judging panel with a prize pool of $200,000 distributed evenly. The contest will then proceed to Phase 2, which will distribute $1 million across up to five winners. In Phase 2, which is open to new participants as well as Phase 1 entries, NGA will seek detailed designs and plans for data collection methodologies, including descriptions, 3D models and hypotheses for prototype development and testing, the agency said.
For more information, go to www.magquest.com.