Newcomer / Intro The Bubble Explorer

Bubble exploration is a very lucrative career option in Elite Dangerous. It’s suited to those who like the idea of exploration but perhaps lack the experience or credits to delve into the deep black and wish to hone their skills within the safety of civilisation. It also suits those like myself who actually have delved into the deep black and found it much less exciting than advertised and seek instant gratification for my exploration exploits.



Your ship.

Bubble exploration can be done in any ship that has a basic discovery scanner attached to it and that includes the Sidewinder you’re ‘born’ in when you first start the game. Fit the budget 300 credit fuel scoop and you’re all set to start making credits. From that point you’re looking to simply upgrade your equipment to make your career more profitable and efficient.

The bubble explorer doesn’t require any fancy engineers or multi million credit ships to make an impressive profit but the following is the optimal set up.

• Ship with a 20ly Jump Range
• Detailed Surface Scanner
• Advanced Discovery Scanner
• Fuel Scoop (optional)

It costs in the region of 2.5million credits to get a Sidewinder, Eagle or Hauler set up like this but a bubble explorer may want to take advantage of their lifestyle to make some side profits along the way. A passenger cabin and/or a cargo rack can often be an advantage when you encounter less profitable areas of space and that’s going to require a bigger vessel like the following...

• Adder
• Cobra
• Viper IV
• Dolphin

Ultimately light, quick, economic ships ‘feel’ the best suited for bubble exploration. It’s nice to be the little guy.

How to operate.

A bubble explorer is one of the few professions that can thrive on in game resources which grants a nice feeling of independence and purpose. The first step is to pull up at the nearest station or outpost and boot up the galaxy map, you need to be docked in order to access Universal Cartographics and plan your first move.

The galaxy map will now offer you the feature of buying exploration data from Universal Cartographics for any undiscovered systems that surround it within 20ly.

The more expensive the data is to buy the more lucrative the system is going to be if you go and explore it yourself. There’s no guess work or luck involved with bubble exploration, every jump you make is 100% focused on both profit and discovery.


This system is just 8ly away, it’s worth 10,683 credits. That means it’s going to be worth around 110,000 credits for a simple honk with the advanced discovery scanner. A full detailed surface scan of the system will be worth between 850,000 - 1m credits.

Don’t buy the data, add a bookmark and head on over yourself. You can turn a simple station or outpost into an advanced radar to plan surgical exploration moves.


Doesn’t look like much right? It was worth 850,000c for five minutes work. It has an ammonia world but its terraformable planets were the icing on the cake.


Jackpot!! A 19,000 credit system is going to be worth 200,000 credits for a simple ads honk and around 1.8-2m for a full scan. I’ve seen systems going for 30k when there’s water worlds involved.

There’s many advantages to local exploration.

• It’s profitable, sometimes insanely so...
• It’s quick
• It’s 100% safe from npc piracy
• Exploration data is very valuable when you want to become allied with a specific system.
• It’s cheap and easy to set up in any ship
• It’s perfect for expanding your market network for the engineer Lei Cheung (a great engineer)
• Great career for a newcomer, which is why I posted this here.
 
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I actually think "bubble exploring" is underrated. Not sure about how much profit you can actually make, but there are lots and lots of beautiful places in close vicinity. I actually visit those when I just want to enjoy flying a bit without trying to be in any way productive. If you're just starting out in Elite I guess you can make a good amount of credits as well without actually doing much.
 
OP, that's a good suggestion. Rep++

I'm an Elite explorer and I always outfit an Advanced Discovery Scanner and often have a Detailed Surface Scanner. Whenever I'm in the bubble and stumble across an unknown system, I do a honk, scan the main star(s) and anything else that looks valuable.

Over time, those credits add up. I usually save my exploration data, so that I can sell a decent quantity at any station I want to earn reputation at. This is a great way to get some quick rep. (FYI - I hardly ever die. Sell it fast, if you die often; that way you won't lose it.)
 
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Yeah. Investing in an advanced discovery scanner instead of a new ship might be a good choice for beginners. I mean, It's about 1.5 million credits, but that scanner gets you so much extra money just by honking once while passing by, it's absolutely worth it and paid off in no time. Also because it's a fixed amount of money not depending on your ship or rank or anything. You can do that in a Sidewinder.
 
Yeah. Investing in an advanced discovery scanner instead of a new ship might be a good choice for beginners. I mean, It's about 1.5 million credits, but that scanner gets you so much extra money just by honking once while passing by, it's absolutely worth it and paid off in no time. Also because it's a fixed amount of money not depending on your ship or rank or anything. You can do that in a Sidewinder.
I’ve used this approach when starting out from LHS 3447. Abandoned the ‘welcome CMDR’ mission, stripped the Sidewinder of its pulse lasers and shield to get jump range of about 10ly and bolted on that crazy 300c scoop. Many of the most profitable planets are within 500ls of the main star so even the basic scanner is enough to get started. The career basically snowballs once you get hold of an intermediate discovery scanner and a detailed surface scanner, that’s just 750,000.

I like this form of exploration, it’s like treasure hunting and you get to visit systems that you’d never normally bother with.
 
+Rep OP, good tips for beginners, just how I started getting my feet wet before heading out 'into the black' proper. And as noted, very handy for getting Allied with factions quickly, though I would point out to beginners to check which factions are in control of which ports/stations in the system map, and that they actually have 'Exploration' noted as one of the 'Available Services'. Who says you need out-of-game resources to make money in Exploration (looking at you, RtR)!
 
This is great. I'm going to share it with some new players who just got the game in the sale. Superb work cmdr!

Also, I've mentioned this to new players before, getting an advanced discovery scanner is a very good idea however you're playing the game. Even if you never drop off one piece of data to UC, the convenience alone is comfortably worth the expense.
 
I know about the "No more stickies" policy. (And frankly, there are only so many stickies one could have, here) But I think many newcomers who are first into the section would profit from this knowledge.

Could it perhaps be massaged into a post suitable for introducing / enticing newcomers to exploration (i.e. new players and others who are "exploration virgo intacta") and "stickied" in the Exploration sub-forum?
 
Great idea! I’m 38% into my final rank in exploring and could use this technique to get me Elite Exploring. I will do it after I finish off my combat rank, I’m 17% in the final rank for now. All done with my trusty Cutter, it will get me my triple elite status soon.
 
Thanks guys, hope someone out there finds it useful...

This is great. I'm going to share it with some new players who just got the game in the sale. Superb work cmdr!

Also, I've mentioned this to new players before, getting an advanced discovery scanner is a very good idea however you're playing the game. Even if you never drop off one piece of data to UC, the convenience alone is comfortably worth the expense.
Works really well at the start of the game if exploration is your thing.

I gave this another go with a fresh CMDR yesterday...

...still in the Sidewinder, feels like I’ve been traveling far but I just checked and I’m only 99ly away from LHS 3447. At first I pretty much went for any system that was worth 5k+ to Universal Cartographics but once I’d installed my scanners I just hunt the 10k+ beasts.
 
It is actually how I made most of my money since I started (after taking the advice on fitting scanners by someone above), it basically makes every trip you make profitable.

It can get a bit boring though since this makes for a galaxy with very few hostiles compared to the classic "mission stacking" or outward exploration,

so I'd advise to combine this technique with accepting the occasional high rank, well paying mission to add a few fights and landings, in between the scanning of planets, which can get tiresome.

I think btw the "Economic route" option in the Galaxy map, takes high paying, not yet scanned systems into account when plotting a route to destination, don't know if anyone can confirm ?
 
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It is actually how I made most of my money since I started (after taking the advice on fitting scanners by someone above), it basically makes every trip you make profitable.

It can get a bit boring though since this makes for a galaxy with very few hostiles compared to the classic "mission stacking" or outward exploration,

so I'd advise to combine this technique with accepting the occasional high rank, well paying mission to add a few fights and landings, in between the scanning of planets, which can get tiresome.

I think btw the "Economic route" option in the Galaxy map, takes high paying, not yet scanned systems into account when plotting a route to destination, don't know if anyone can confirm ?
Well that’s the nice thing about it, you can take a full combat ready ship out and do this, even ones that are notoriously bad at jumping like Dropship, Vulture, FDL. Odly enough, a Vulture is a pretty nice choice for Bubble Exploration with its 2xclass 1 internals all ready for the scanners. Soon as you get bored you can abort and go shoot some stuff straight away.

Not sure about using the economy route option, it’s usually better to use the star class filter and A, F & K (I think) systems as those can support life.

Another option could be to take a high jump range ship and just filter for Terraforming economies in the galaxy map. Not tried this approach before but it could yield some good results.
 
(...) Not sure about using the economy route option, it’s usually better to use the star class filter and A, F & K (I think) systems as those can support life.
I'm still figuring out the intricate details of those map filters, but I imagine once you know how to apply (and read) them to best effect, they are very useful yes.
 
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