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Thermal Sensors

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Image: ESA

A Thermal Sensor is a passive sensor component that allows detection of ships, missiles and colonies without emitting radiation itself.


The sensor component works by detecting and tracking objects which give off thermal signature such as engines on enemy ships and missiles or population on colonies. A Thermal Sensor is a passive sensor, as such it gives you situational awareness without giving away your position, however, its contacts cannot be used by the Fire Control for targeting, you need an Active sensor contact for that.

The range at which a contact can be detected is given by: Detection Range = Thermal Sensor Sensitivity * Target Signature Strength * 1000 km A 10-sensitivity thermal sensor can detect the 300-signature drive plume of an enemy ship at 3,000,000 km. A 300-sensitivity sensor could detect a 10-signature plume at the same range. Sensor sensitivity is given by the product of its Sensor sensitivity background tech selection and its size in hull spaces.

Like all electronic systems, the sensor is vulnerable to high energy microwave attack.


Every ship has default thermal ratings of 1, which can be increased by the addition of such dedicated thermal sensor. Thermal sensors are military components, they have limited use in a combat scenario, but their all-round ability to detect almost anything sentient makes them an excellent addition to survey and scout vessels.

Background Techs

Thermal Detection Sensor has three background techs:

Thermal Sensor Sensitivity is the sensor detection strength per hull space of the sensor component. This can be improved through research:

Sensitivity 5 6 8 11 14 18 24 32 40 50 60 75
RP cost 1,000 2,000 4,000 8,000 15,000 30,000 60,000 120,000 250,000 500,000 1,000,000 2,000,000

Total Sensor Size can be set to any size between 0.1 hull spaces and 50 hull spaces (a hull space is 50 tonnes). Bigger sensors are more capable but also more massive.

Electronic Hardening Protects an electronic system against anti-electronic weapons or effects, such as a High-Powered Microwave.

Hardening 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Chance of Destruction (%) 100 70 50 40 30 25 20 15 10
RP cost 1,000 2,500 5,000 10,000 20,000 40,000 75,000 150,000 300,000