Now that you have decided on what ship you want to use, we should look at what critical modules you will want to install on your exploration ship.
Critical to exploration is the Probe Launcher. The Probe launcher uses probes, of course, as ammo and can launch up to eight of them at one time, which you can then manipulate. The probe launcher comes into two flavors: Core and Expanded. The Core Probe Launcher can be considered the “basic” model, and is only able to use core probes and hold eight a time. The Expanded Probe launcher is the more advanced model, can hold more probes, and is able to also use Combat probes (The one launcher you won’t want is the Survey Probe Launcher, which is used for determining the compositions of moons). The Expanded Probe Launcher requires much more CPU to operate however, and if you are not expecting to use your ship for PVP, there is no reason to use an Expanded.
Both Core and the Expanded Probe Launcher come in three flavors:
- The Tech I version is pretty low-key with no outstanding features on either launcher.
- The Tech II version gives you a boost to rate of fire (which really isn’t that important), but also gives you a 5% boost to scan probe strength.
- The Sister Probe Launcher remains the gold standard as it retains the improved Rate of fire, but gains an additional 10% bonus to scan probe strength.
and as for price.. well, I’ll let you figure out which one will cost the most.
Probes also come into three different flavors for those interested in Exploration:
- Core Probe – 40 Base Sensor Strength
- Combat Probe – 20 Base Sensor Strength
- Sister Core Probe – 44 Base Sensor Strength
- Sister Combat Probe – 22 Base Sensor Strength
- RSS Core Probe – 45 Base Sensor Strength
Since probes get reused, it does pay to go for the more expensive Sister and RSS Core Probes. As a piece of insurance however, I still keep a large quantity of the cheaper core probes, just in case I forget to bring my Sisters back.
Some interesting points that reader Silinde brought out: Probes now automatically return to you when you dock, jump out of system, or if the timer runs out. The only thing that can stop them returning is if you purposely disconnect from them. Pretty nice additions I must say.
Analyzers and Support Modules
When you are running exploration sites, i.e. the Data and Relic sites. This means that you need a Relic and Data module on your ship:
- Data Analyzer I: 20 VS (Virus Strength), 40 VC (Virus Coherence), +5% Difficulty Bonus
- Data Analyzer II: 30 VS, 60 VC, +7% Difficulty Bonus
- Code Analyzer I: 20 VS (Virus Strength), 40 VC (Virus Coherence), +5% Difficulty Bonus
- Code Analyzer II: 30 VS, 60 VC, +7% Difficulty Bonus
The mini-game is pretty interesting.. think of it as a type of game that isn’t overly challenging in concept, but in actual application you can expect to lose quite a bit initially. I cannot say this enough, the 50% increase in VS and VC when you go from Tech I to Tech II analyzers is a HUGE, HUGE improvement, and quite literally means you will be making millions more on your exploration runs.
Other than getting to the Tech II Analyzers, having a Cargo Scanner is probably the next best module to have on your ship. Cargo Scanners allow you to view some of the valuable rig salvage, Blueprints, Datacores, etc that are on a particular wreck/Datapoint.
Since it would be pretty boring to break Cargo Scanners down (there is little difference between them), I am not going to bore you with it either. Personally, I use a Cargo Scanner II… but even a Cargo Scanner I would easily do what you need it to do. There are rumors about that a Cargo Scanner II scans more accurately, but I haven’t seen that yet myself.
So, Helena Khan mentioned something that I a.) haven’t used, and b.) didn’t know they existed. Here is what he said:
Look in the market under ship equipment, scanning upgrades.
I like the 20% bonus to scan speed with the T2 version of the scan acquisition array. After all, it’s the competition for sites that’s the killer.
Anything which gets you there faster than anyone else is worth considering. It’s a toss up between that and scan strength though.
All dependent on spare mids of course….
Well, in null-sec there really isn’t as much need for these because most don’t want to risk hopping into enemy territory, or even friendly territory. Plus, since I’m in the “low population” timezone of the Pacific Standard time, I typically never needed anything to be “quicker” for scanning down sites.
Nevertheless, these modules can be an advantage. Here is what is available in and around Jita:
- Scan Acquisition Array I – Reduces the Scan Time of Probes by 10%
- Scan Acquisition Array II – Reduces the Scan Time of Probes by 20%
- Scan Pinpointing Array I – Reduces the Scan Deviation of Probes by 10%
- Scan Pinpointing Array II – Reduces the Scan Deviation of Probes by 20%
- Scan Rangefinding Array I – Increases the Scanning Strength by 5%
- Scan Rangefinding Array II – Increases the Scanning Strength by 10%
The Acquisition Arrays are pretty nice since they reduce the real time scanning while searching for sites. The Pinpointing Arrays are nifty as well because it essentially reduces your “error” rate as it were.. so that saves time having to scan and rescan. The final Rangefinding Array is sweet as well, as scanning strength hits locks down targets quicker.. though, I think in practice, it may not be as great of a bonus.
Well, I would recommend a prop mod too, because quite a few of the sites require you to travel long distances around 50 to 70km from one beacon to another. Aside from that, it’s up to you.. just make sure it isn’t going to hurt your ability to escape.