I want to get into exploration (mainly because I want to do a bit of everything in this game), but it takes so long to scan every planet, moon, and asteroid belt segment of a system. Is there any way to make the scanning process quicker?

  • This is anecdotal evidence, but it feels like scans complete quicker the closer you are.
    – Yuuki
    Jan 15, 2015 at 2:26
  • 1
    Also, don't bother scanning asteroid belts and moons, they add very little value to your exploration data. Focus on scanning planets, especially metallic and earth-like ones.
    – Yuuki
    Jan 15, 2015 at 2:27
  • @Unionhawk - The system map will give you an idea of which are a waste of time, experience then reinforces this. You'll soon get an idea of which planets are the Icy, valueless ones and which ones look more interesting. Jan 16, 2015 at 8:30
  • Depending on the body type, moons may still be worthwhile. Still skip asteroids though - they have literally zero value.
    – Iszi
    Sep 30, 2016 at 14:05

2 Answers 2


Much like @Yuuki said in comments, scans complete faster the closer you are (can confirm this), and asteroid/resource sites don't give much for bonus.

A couple things to know about exploration

  1. The basic discovery scanner has a small range of 500LS, intermediate has 1000, and advanced will spot everything within the system. source
  2. The Surface Scanner will increase your exploration reward by a decent amount, as well as give more information.
  3. The range at when you can even start scanning objects varies between their types
    • Stars: 1000LS
    • Large planets: around 200LS (depending on size)
    • Smaller planets (earthlike): around 50LS (again, depending on size)
    • moons, mining areas, and other small objects: under 10LS.

So how do you use this knowledge? When you jump into an unfamiliar system (the star you jump into will be undiscovered), fire off your scanners and then begin scanning in an outward direction all of the planets. moons and other objects aren't worth much money, so you can just keep them as "UNEXPLORED" and it's probably fine (you still get paid if they are just left as discovered)

If you have the surface scanner, be sure to fire that off on planets, especially if they look like they support life (life supporting planets gets a pretty boost in reward)

  • There is much information on the Elite forums about the values of each entity. For starters, it is worth knowing that the asteroid clusters are (oddly) worth nothing, so don't bother scanning them. Also, the values for Ice, Rock and Rocky Ice are pretty low, so you can avoid them. These often look white or pink (depending on the star colour) in the System Map and also have a distinct look on the display next to your scanner when you target them, so they can be easy to avoid - though the display next to the scanner doesn't always display anything/the correct image. Jan 15, 2015 at 10:52
  • @MickWaites So if I look in the system map, will I be able to see which planets are a waste of my time too? Or does that only really show itself if I scan the planets?
    – Unionhawk
    Jan 15, 2015 at 18:46
  • @Unionhawk Asteroids are worth hardly anything, so yes, the system map will show you which bodies are a waste of time. Bear in mind that the DS has a limited range (unless you drop the significant chunk of change into the Advanced one), so you might reveal 12 asteroid belts in your initial scan, while a bunch of planets (or even another star) could be lurking outside of your scan range.
    – user109166
    Apr 28, 2015 at 21:44
  • Range to scan objects varies widely even within the object classes you've specified. It all seems roughly tied to the object's radius. I've had large gas giants scan as far away as 1kLs, and some supergiant stars as far out as 200kLs. On the other extreme, White dwarf and neutron stars require an extremely close approach - around 10 Ls - as do black holes.
    – Iszi
    Sep 30, 2016 at 14:00
  • Scanning "in an outward direction" according to the system map is a decent start, but can often be far from optimal. The system map shows objects according to the radius of their orbit, regardless of where they are in relation to other objects. So, you could find yourself crossing the center of the system several times by following the map alone.
    – Iszi
    Sep 30, 2016 at 14:03

As of Elite: Dangerous 3.3 a lot has changed about exploration. Newly equipped as standard are the discovery scanner (equivalent to the advanced discovery scanner in previous patches) and the Full Spectrum Scanner, FSS. Also added to the game is a new Detailed Surface Scanner, DSS, which launches probes at worlds to map them.

When you are exploring, you can ignore anything outside a handful of categories:

  • Earth-like worlds
  • Water worlds
  • Ammonia worlds
  • High metal content worlds
  • Metal rich bodies

These worlds can be identified in particular on your FSS by selecting the signal frequencies associated with them. The signal analysis in the bottom right will show you exactly what frequency range you're tuned in on. Let's look at an example:

FSS tuned in on High Metal Content Worlds

As you can see, there is at least one signal in the High Metal Content Worlds frequency range (there happen to be two: the signal directly to the right of where I'm tuned here is also high metal content). This signal happens to be coming from Turdetani B 1, which you can kind of see based on the arrows pointing towards the B star.

While it is possible to skip scanning ice worlds altogether in this manner, it can be helpful to clear every signal off the board, since the FSS process does not take very long. What I tend to do is jump into a system and scan every body with my FSS if and only if I see a signal from one of the higher value regions, as a compromise position.

Once you've scanned the bodies, and identified which ones may be worth mapping, you can then fly out to each of these particularly and fire probes at them to obtain additional mapping bonuses.

Mapping Turdentani A 1

I would recommend checking out the FSS and DSS tutorial above, as this video goes into great detail on the exact operation of the new mechanics. A lot of exploring has been sped up greatly by the new mechanics, if you know how to use them properly.

  • It is worth noting that even some high metal contents are relatively low value. Turdetani A 1 which I mapped for this example only got me around 70k. Some others are worth 300k though. It is a mixed bag.
    – Unionhawk
    Jan 17, 2019 at 18:50

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .