I want to deploy a satellite network through the universe, but to do that I first need to discover all the sectors. Is there an easy way to do that? I would like to avoid having to visit every sector personally or remotely ordering a ship to fly through every gate there is. Ideally, I would like to map the sectors as well.
The method I personally use is to go to a busy sector like Seizewell with a shipyard and buy 10 cheap M5 scouts. Equip each scout with a scanner. Simply tell each ship to follow one of the many NPC freighters in the sector, and try to follow a variety of different races, as they will all have very different destinations. Your scouts will slowly fill out your universe map, though they will die when the NPC freighters pass through Xenon sectors. Also, they will not create a complete map, as NPC traders do not often go to the far-reaches of the universe and unknown sectors. The rest of the exploration can be done manually.
The easiest way would probably to use the Universal Explorer mod.
Here are the key points which can interest you:
Player owned M3, M4, M5, and Goner Rangers (and Truelight Seeker in ship mod) may hire a pilot by choosing "Start Universe Explorer..." from the navigation commands. The ship must be equipped with Explorer Command Software.
If an explorer enters a sector marked as 'Foe' in their ships friend/foe settings they will retreat and try to find a different unknown sector. I always put pirates as Foe so they survive. Razz
As the pilot gains experience they will learn methods to increase the speed of exploring a sector. As with the original Explore Sector command the speed of the scan is very dependent on the installed scanners and speed of the ship.
With experience comes more methods of finding unexplored sectors, everything from random known gate wandering to using the players satellite network to communicating with other ships to get directions can eventually be used.
Explorers will automatically begin to build up the players satellite network, if one is not in place already. They will also maintain the players satellite network when they notice missing satellites. This feature and the type(s) of satellites used can be toggled in the community menu.
From what I read on the forum discussion, there are issues with it still (some ships might not work with it, for example), and it's not really supported anymore by the maintainer. But you could probably give it a try, see how it goes for you.