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As far as I can see and read Alert missions are the most effective way to get credits and can have some unique rewards that you can get no where else. enter image description here

But is there any pattern to when they happen?

Sometimes it feels like I can play for hours without seeing any pop up and other times they are constantly there, sometimes even more than one is going on at the same time.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Every 30-40 minutes there is a new alert. It seems quite random at first, but that's because you only see alerts of missions you already have access to.

You can check the twitter account for all alerts:

In Warframe Developer Livestream #5 they talk a bit about how alerts are generated, at 59 min. Alerts are randomly generated, except for the once started after the life stream.

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I would also like to add that there is an Android app that has the option to... well... alert you to alerts regardless of unlocked missions. My friends and I have used this several times to rush our way over to an alert we wouldn't have otherwise even known about. – Aeo May 13 '13 at 12:39

There is not a pattern to alerts. They are launched either by the developers at Digital Extremes, or by some sort of engine that randomly generates one. I think that they are launched by the developers because in the most recent livestream (April 10th) they announced a special alert would happen afterwards.

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