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See VB6 and C# pages
This page contains basic generic information that is version-independent. It is accurate for both the VB6 version of the game (last released December 27, 2015) and the C# version of the game (currently in active development).

It does not contain version-specific details - for those, see C-Survey (C#) and VB-Survey (VB6).

Survey missions are used to find Jump Points and Minerals. They are conducted by survey vessels equipped with specialized sensors capable of either detecting gravitational anomalies or the geological makeup of system bodies.

Gravitational Survey

Before you can explore new systems, or find new routes between existing ones, you first need to find the Jump Points connecting them. Surveying a system requires a vessels equipped with Gravitational Survey Sensors.

You can see the surveyed and unsurveyed Survey Locations in a system by selecting "Show JP Survey Locations" from the Display tab in the System Map window. You will be notified when a system has been completely surveyed. Each system contains 30 points which can be scanned for potential jump points. The distance from the primary star and the survey time will vary based on the mass of the primary star.

Geological Survey

Before you can start mining other bodies (planets, moons, asteroids or comets), you have to complete a geological survey from orbit first. Surveying a body requires a vessel equipped with Geological Survey Sensors. An estimated 5% of all bodies contain minerals. A geological survey may not find all minerals on a body, however - see the version-specific pages for details on follow-up ground surveys.

The quality of the geo-sensor (normal, improved, advanced, phased) and the capabilities of the ground surveyors affect only the time required, not the chance of finding minerals. You can't get more than two chances of discovering minerals - one for the orbital search, one for the ground survey.

Typically, larger bodies contain more minerals when discovered, but they usually have lower accessibility. Comets have high chances of containing minerals and usually have very high accessibility, but the quantities are typically quite low.

Gas giants can only ever contain Sorium, and cannot be given a follow-up ground survey.

Survey results

You will be notified when a system has been completely surveyed.

There are several ways to find out which bodies have been surveyed and what has been found:

  • selecting "Show Surveyed Bodies" from the Minerals tab in the system map window. Here you can also see how much mineral reserves have been found, and their accessibility (i.e. possible mining rate).
  • going to the System View window (F9): the first column shows either nothing (not surveyed yet), an "S" (surveyed but nothing found) or "M" (minerals present).
  • the Geological Survey Report window provides a search function for minerals you've discovered.

Finally, the Summary tab of the Population & Production window tells you whether a geo-team search on the colony has been completed yet.

Default Survey Orders

On the second tab of the Task Groups window you'll find "Default Orders". Select "Survey Nearest System Location"(C#)/"Survey Next Location"(VB6) for grav survey, or "Survey Nearest Body"(C#)/"Survey Next [Planet/Moon/Asteroid]"(VB6) for geo survey. These orders will be carried out whenever there's nothing else in the orders list. You will be notified when the ships have surveyed all locations which fit their orders.

You can also use bulk standing orders, such as "Survey Next 5 Bodies" or "Survey Next 3 Locations" to have the ships select multiple survey locations at once. This can sometimes spread your ships out more efficiently, and allow geo-survey ships to do more in a single time increment if multiple small bodies are nearby, but the differences are usually minor.