Deep space probe exploration

Prior to Odyssey, there was a trick for getting a general idea of what a cosmic signature was without going to all the trouble of scanning it down, by exploiting a property of deep space probes. Although Odyssey removed deep space probes, the trick does actually – more or less – still work.

Cosmic signatures fall into different “bands” of signal strength, depending on what they contain. Certain sites are easier to find then others – assuming your probes are placed equally well, they’ll get a stronger hit on those sites. The thing about deep space probes was that because their scan strength was so low, it didn’t really matter where you put them – you’d get a similarily weak hit on any signature no matter where the probe was, and you could then look up a table to translate that weak signal strength into a decent idea of what the signature was.

If the system is relatively small, however, you can replicate this effect by placing a single combat probe, well away from the body of the system, you can recreate this effect even without DSPs. Simply place a signal combat probe as far away from all the planets as possible while still covering 4AU around them all. Move all the other probes well out of the way, as shown here:
Deep space probe positions

Note that the results form into bands: 0.9, 0.6, 0.4 and 0.2. These bands correspond to the bands in the DSP grid – the numbers won’t be the same (they’ll depend on how good your scan skills and scanning ship are), but whatever they are, you can map them to the DSP scan strength.
Probe results
In this case, this is a C5 wormhole system. You can map these as follows:

Combat probe strength DSP strength Explanation
0.9 0.20 These are the biggest and easiest signatures to identify – and, indeed, these are the H296 static plus a K162.
0.4 0.10 At 0.4, these are about half the size of the 0.9 signatures. 0.9 from combats was about 0.2 from DSPs, so these will map to the 0.1 DSP signatures. Indeed, they are both frontier gas sites.
0.2 0.05 Half the size again – so this maps to 0.05 on a DSP. And, indeed, that’s a data site.
0.6 0.13 I cheated on this one skipping it until now – but I knew that I could start with the big ones and then halve them to figure out which ones are the other common sizes. This falls in between the 0.20 signatures and the 0.10 signatures – making it a 0.13 signature.

By looking for the bands and applying some logic based on the DSP grids you can easily map the bands you get from combat scan probes to the former DSP results. Once you’re familiar with your ship, your skills, and the type of system you’re scanning in, you don’t even need the grid anymore and can just rely on the feel of it.