How does the planet & material scanning mode work in Mass Effect 3? When I first charted out, there was some vague info about scanning being "faster" & Reapers being on your tail if you've done it too long.

I knew in Mass Effect 2, you would orbit the planet and then go about the grind, I can't find the same on Mass Effect 3. So do I just go about scanning randomly? What was that thing about Reaper attack & should hide away thingy?

2 Answers 2


There's two phases to scanning for War Assets:

On the system map, you can scan a region of the system by sending out something that could be compared to a "sonar ping," and once you've located an item on a planet or moon, you can select that planet or moon and begin the planetary scan.

In the first phase, you press a button to scan a region around the Normandy. Any items of interest will be highlighted with a red ring. You can then go and investigate these sites. You can only scan a portion of the system at a time, and scanning too many times in the same system (if is is under Reaper control) will lead to the Reapers chasing you out of it, lest you game over.

Some items you will just find in the system map - items like extra fuel from the remains of a wrecked ship, for example. Others will require you to scan the planet before you can locate the item.

If you must scan a planet or moon, you enter the second phase. The second phase is very similar to the way mineral/anomaly scanning worked in Mass Effect 2. You'll be shown a 3-D model of the planet, and you'll have a little radar icon that shows you which direction the item in question is. You'll have to move over the surface of the planet, scanning periodically to keep moving in the correct direction. Once you've located the item (noted with a white dot) you can launch a probe. The probe will recover the item, and then you can leave orbit.

The scanning is quite a bit more straightforward and fast compared to ME2. In that game, you might spend 10 minutes extracting resources from a planet, and use up probes that had to be replenished. In this game, there's usually far fewer items to be found on a planet, and you have infinite probes.

  • sweet, thanks for tips. Glad to hear that thescanning part is lot less tedious. Hated that in ME2 Mar 8, 2012 at 19:10
  • @Sathya, yeah, I saw a video of it before the game released, and at first I was angry they were bringing that back, but honestly it's a lot less annoying than I thought it was going to be.
    – agent86
    Mar 8, 2012 at 19:13

It's a lot different this time.

You enter a system and use the left trigger(on the 360 at least) to scan. The scan effects a limited area of the system. EDI will indicate if a scan found anything on the map. If EDI finds something on a planet, it works just like scanning a planet with a detected anomaly in ME2. You can find fuel, war assets and credits this way.

If you scan too much and it alerts the reapers. Several of them enter the system and chase you down. You have to leave the system to escape. They will remain in the system until you complete another mission, and then you can go back and try to scan some more.

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