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Is there any point in exploring systems that do not have a mission associated with them, besides resource gathering? For example are there any hidden side quests or random encounters to be found?

EDIT: To be more clear, are there any quests or random encounters which are not previously referred to or marked in any way, and thus can only be found by scanning planets? I have "found" a couple of missions by scanning planets but in each case the mission location was already marked on the system map.

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Yes, there are some side quests that are not marked. If you scan a planet and find an anomaly there, this means there is a mission on that planet.

They are pretty short, but somewhat more varied than the side missions of Mass Effect 1.

According to the Mass Effect 2 wiki there are 38 anomalies that each represent a side mission (don't follow the link if you want to remain unspoiled).

  • I assume "systems that do not have a mission associated with them" means the side quests, which are in fact marked, but only after being discovered. – Raven Dreamer Feb 21 '11 at 2:40
  • Yes I meant missions that you would not find if you didn't scan random planets, see my edit to the question. – jwaddell Feb 21 '11 at 4:25
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If EDI does not tell you when you first zoom in on a planet that "an anomaly has been detected", the planet can safely be ignored.

Unlike in Mass Effect 1, there are no hidden objects to search for (i.e., carbonaceous asteroids) either.

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