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Scan probes (before Apocrypha)

Note that this section is in dire need of a rewrite since Apocrypha. The scan probe system has been redesigned and a new version of this article is in the making.

This article describes the use of scan probes and the scan probe launcher. It also explains some of the misunderstandings about their possibilities due to changes in EVE's scanning system over time.

Recommended reading before reading this article: ScanningGuide (on the directional scanner), AdvancedBookmarking (on safespots). If you're looking for information on moon probes, read MoonSurveying instead.

This article is not about ExplorationProbes and exploration, just about the use of regular scan probes to find ships and other objects in space. The text of this guide borrows heavily from Hoshi's Scanning Guide on the forumsleaving this site, many thanks to Hoshi for writing that. It has been modified to bring it in line with how this Wiki works and to be more useful ingame, as well as adding a little information here and there.

On this page:

What you need to scan

Since Revelations II, you have the option of using the on-board scanner to find Cosmic Signatures at short range, which makes it almost exclusively useful for quick exploration scanning. Scans at longer range, or for other types of signature require scan probes. To use scan probes, you need a couple of things: a probe launcher, a ship that can fit a probe launcher, some probes ('ammo') and the skills to use it all together.

Probe Launchers

Currently, there are 2 probe launchers freely availabe on the market: the Scan Probe Launcher Ileaving this site and the Recon Probe Launcher Ileaving this site. Both can be fitted to any ship with the required grid and cpu and fitting them does not require an unoccupied launcher hardpoint (like a missile launcher would).

The Scan launcher has a larger capacity and can hold and fire moon and exploration probes. It has a base cycle of 600 sec. which goes down to about 120 sec with max. skills and an ideal ship and a 15 sec firing delay. The cycle time is time you need to wait for results, after firing the probe and the firing delay is the time in between firing probes. The Recon launcher can only hold small probes, but has a base cycle of 120 sec. and only 24 sec. with max. skills and an ideal ship, a well as a 2.5 sec firing delay.

You cannot fit more than one scan probe launcher at a time, so you have to choose either the Scan or the Recon launcher. The Recon launcher is the preferred launcher for scanning down ships.


There are three main types of probes: exploration probes, moon survey probes and scanner probes. These are the scanner probes:

Scanner Probe Range Sensor Strength Max Scan Deviation Flight Time Astrometrics Level
Observator Deep Space Probe Ileaving this site 1,000 AU 1 point 20,000km 80 min. V
Ferret Scanner Probe Ileaving this site 40 AU 2.5 points 10,000km 40 min. V
Spook Scanner Probe Ileaving this site 20 AU 5 points 5,000km 20 min. IV
Fathom Scanner Probe Ileaving this site 10 AU 10 points 2,500km 10 min. III
Snoop Scanner Probe Ileaving this site 5 AU 20 points 200km 5 min. I

A probe can only find something within its range, in any direction, i.e. a sphere-shaped area which will show up on the solarsystem view of the map (hotkey F10 by default). The higher the sensor strength, the better the odds of finding something if it is there and the more accurate the position. When you find something, max. scan deviation is the max. distance you will end up from the target. A probe will only be around for a limited time (flight time) and you need to finish your scan using the probe before it disappears, or it fails.

You could try to use exploration probes to scan for ships because of their high scan strength, but they have very limited range and they require you to fit a Scan launcher, which increases the scan time considerably.


You need the Astrometrics skill to be able to use the probes. The better the range of the probe, the higher the level of skill required. Other skills are optional and improve your results and scan time.

Astrometric Pinpointing reduces the scan deviation, meaning that you will generally land closer to your target. Astrometric Triangulation improves the scan strength of your probes, giving you more accurate results and improving the odds of finding something on a single scan attempt. And Signal Acquisition reduces the scan time, halving it at level 5.

How to scan with probes

Start by using the directional scanner to rapidly find someone within 14.35 AU's of some location you can warp to. If you see them, you can quickly scan them down with short range probes. If you can't, use a Observator, Ferret or Spook, depending on where you guess they are. An Observator covers everything, but its weak sensor strength means you may need many attempts to find something. The Spook covers only 20 AU, but it is 5 times as strong as the Observator and on average requires only 1/5th the number of scans if the target is within its range.

Launch probes

Launching probes works like any ammo-based weapon. Load the probe into the launcher, fire the launcher (no target required) and the probe floats into space. The launcher will reload, but not fire again, so you don't have to turn it off.

After you launch a probe, open the scanner window (hotkey Ctrl+F11 by default) and select the 'system scanner' tab. Select the group you're scanning for (usually ships, if you're trying to find a pilot) and select the probe(s) you want to include in the attempt. Once you have, press the 'analyze' button.

You can move, cloak and use the scanner window while analyzing, but if you warp away, your scan fails. Once the timer runs out, the results will appear in a results tab. Remember, scanning is based on chance, involving the signature radius of your target and your probes' sensor strength. You may need to scan many times before you pick up the target.

Anything the scanner picks up is visible on the map's solar system view as well.

Interpreting the results

The first column of the results tells you what you found. The signal strength tells you how hard it was to find this target. The stronger the signal, the easier it was to find. Read more about signal strength in the guide to AdvancedScanProbes. The range tells you how far away the signal is. The accuracy tells you how close you will be to the target if you warp to the signal.

The signals on the map solar system view are colorcoded to show the strength (0-0.4, 0.4-0.8, 0.8+). You can rightclick the signals in the map solar system view, or rightclick the signals in the results list and warp to them.

Warping to the signal

If the accuracy of the signal was good enough, warping will put you on the grid with the target (i.e. within visual range), so be careful. If the accuracy wasn't as good, you may need to launch another probe (a Snoop, since the signal will never be more than 20,000km off) to get close to the target.

If you want to launch another probe, you need to destroy the previous one, because you're not allowed to launch probes within the range of another one of your probes. Destroying the probes won't clear the results, so you can still warp to them, but starting a new analysis will. Bookmark multiple signals if you want to scan at all of them.

Changes to the scan probe system in Revelations

The scan probe system has changed a lot with Revelations. This leads to a lot of confusion for people reading old guides.

Using the Observator Deep Space Probe Ileaving this site, you used to be able to create safespot bookmarks that were well outside the scanning range of all probes but the Observator itself, by abusing its inaccuracy. This is no longer possible, since the maximum scan deviation of the Observator has been reduced to 20,000km now from 96AU (!!!) before. Some of these Bookmarks are still around, but it is no longer possible to create them.

Before, probes didn't have specific strength and the signature of objects didn't figure into scanning. Now, they do, so any guide on scan probes from before Revelations is pretty much useless.

Before, you used to be able to scan people inside deadspace as easily as anywhere else. Warping to them would still drop you at the gate, but this allowed you to find people inside mission deadspace quite easily. This is no longer the case. The chance of finding someone on a scan while they are in a deadspace (mission, DED or exploration) is about 1% of the normal chance, so effectively you have to scan 100x as often (on average) to find them.

Before, scan probes only scanned a disc-shaped area, which was an enormous problem when trying to scan people above or below the disc. Now, the scan probes scan a sphere, as you would expect. That means their range is the same in any direction.

Current EVE version: 4.10.45943 (Trinity 1.0.1)

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