First of all, you need to be at least at level 15. Once you achieve that level, go to Ron Micah on Presidium in Palolon and do ALL of his missions. When you’ve completed the series, he will give you a set of landing gear which will enable you to land on planets which have no docking rings.
Secondly, you need choose your planet carefully.
On the left hand side drop down menu (under System Options) select ‘Galactic Exploration’. This will give you a list of all the planets currently being explored, how much of each planet has been explored so far and the name of the chief explorer. Try to choose one which has a very low exploration percentage because a high percentage shows that the chief explorer has been working on that planet for a long time and may get upset if someone else comes in and starts exploring without asking first.
Once you’ve chosen your planet, cross reference it with the Galactic Map and see where it’s located and what other inhabited planets are nearby. Ideally, unless you have a lot of fuel and cargo space, you need to be at least in the next system to a Commercial Storage and CSTS facility so you can store anything you find while exploring. It’s a good idea to fit a Minos Transporter to your ship so you can take off from the planet and transport your finds to a Commercial Store immediately without having to waste fuel taking them there in your ship.
Minos Transporters can only be bought in the Core Exiles store – with ‘real’ money – but they’re well worth it. Buy the best you can afford because the higher number models have a longer range. It is essential to get your finds safely stored in a Commercial Store because one of the regular hazards of exploration is pirates.
They make a very large hole in your hull AND steal everything in your cargo hold – which is not a good experience if they catch you with a nice collection of items which you haven’t yet been able to transport. Some items go straight into your ship store (which is different from the cargo hold) and you don’t have to worry about those being stolen.
You can easily tell the difference between the two types of find because the ‘steal-able’ items will show up as a number on your cargo capacity indicator and the others won’t.
Thirdly, you need exploration packs. These come in three grades according to the danger level of the planet being explored. Basics are for planets with level 1 through 6, Generics are for planets with level 7 through 12 and Advanced are for planets with level 13 through 20. The danger level is shown on the information which appears when you land on a planet. In order to use these packs you need sufficient survey skill points. You need a minimum of 30 survey points to use Basic kits. Each grade of kit needs more points and a higher level, so to use Generics you need to be at level 20 with a survey skill of 70 and Advanced need level 30 with a survey skill of 120.
Exploration packs can be bought from other players or from the Galactic Buyers’ Market. IRC chat (the little speech bubble on the strip at the bottom of the screen) enables you to talk to other players ‘live’ so you can ask questions, negotiate with them to buy and sell items and just generally chat. Several of the regulars there make exploration kits of various grades and they’re always happy to sell them – and they will often give you a discount in exchange for resources.
When you first start exploring you can only do 50 explorations in a 24 hour period. If you fit a Seraphim Pod Type 1 you can do 70 each time, but you need to have reached at least level 20 to use it, a Type 2 will enable you to do 80 and requires a level of 45 and Type 3 will enable you to do 90 but requires a level of 55. Seraphim Pods can be bought on the Market or from other players.
If you want to be really adventurous and explore in Expanse, you will need an Intergalactic Telemetry Beacon – but you need to be at least level 30 to use one. ITBs can be obtained from Marshal Decker on Ikora in Grantham. Like Ron Micah, he gives it to you when you’ve completed all his missions.
He needs a red crystal for one of the missions, so joining IRC chat is a good way to get one. One important thing to remember is that Minos Transporters will not work in Expanse, so you must transport your finds to a Commercial Store yourself. Another is that Torra Donnagan on Coalition-1 in Yam will give you 5 generic exploration kits in exchange for quantities of certain items. Check out her requirements (it will help if you write them down because she is very picky and only wants seven types of finds).
Exploring is great fun and a very good way of getting XP and credits. Obviously, there are days when you have nothing but a run of bad luck, but there are many others when everything is going right and you finish your session with over 2m credits in your account and another 200k or more XP – not to mention all the things you’ve found which you can trade and so make even more money – and if you happen to be the Chief Explorer and ‘your’ planet is eventually 100% explored, you get a million credits and your name on the news ticker!