Scouting and Reconnaisance

Nearly all military ships are equipped with broadly similar and stanadrdised sensor arrays, which are opimised to passively detech enemy thruster burns, and to use active radar for combat at ranges out to about 3000km. The only exceptions, in order of effectiveness at tactical scouting are the Scout Ship (SCI) and the Survey Ship (SSI). The Survey Ship has additional equipmnent for planetary mapping, orbital measurement and solar flare analysis etc.
The relative scouting value of a scouting vessel depends entirely on what its mission is.

  • If a major base (for example an Exterminator manufacturing base), then just about any ship stands a chance of spotting it from the M25.

  • If searching for enemy ships moving around a system, then military class sensors will pick that up faster than civilian. An SSI may pick it up a bit faster than a military ship, and a scout ship will pick up the enemy's burns fastest of all.

However, if the sensing ship is burning at the time, it's chance of spotting is much reduced, due to interference from the energy being pumped out by its own engines. And a 2g burn will usually create more interference than a 1g burn from the same ship type - but a 2g burn from a destroyer emits less energy than a 1g burn from a battleship.

  • If searching for enemy ships on silent running, then there would need to be hundreds of ships searching for decades, before any appreciable chance of detection occurs.

  • If looking for human habitation on a world, from the M25, that's largely a function of the economic level of the world. The more developed the world, the more it 'lights up' its system. The quickest, and possibly the only, way of finding out detail of whats on a sparesly populated planet, such as small JS colonies, pirate bases, etc, is to get into orbit and scan.

There are other reconnaisance technquies, see also entry for Fastball Special