Nav Beacons are devices placed in orbit around the primary stars of inhabited systems that provide local navigation data for pilots. Data can be downloaded from a Nav Beacon by targeting and scanning it.
Scanning a Nav Beacon will permanently reveal and identify any unexplored destinations within the same system, including planets and stations, as well as provide import and export data for all local ports and Fleet Carriers. Nav Beacons can also be used to identify the location of certain mission objectives, such as assassination targets or salvage sites. This can be dangerous in the former case, as simply arriving at a Nav Beacon can draw the target out of hiding to make the first strike, but any security forces that are already on site will likely move against the target for attacking.
Nav Beacon sites are often bustling hubs of activity, with traders, freighter convoys, smugglers, bounty hunters, security ships, pirates, and criminals jumping in and out constantly. Similarly to Resource Extraction Sites, this makes them convenient places to hunt for bounties.
There are some systems where the local Nav Beacon has been compromised by hacking or an attack. The message "System Link Error: Security response unavailable" will appear on the HUD upon entering the site, meaning no security forces will enter the Nav Beacon zone even if a ship with the "Report Crimes Against Me" function active is attacked. Many wanted vessels with high bounties can be found around Compromised Nav Beacons, and they can be destroyed with relative impunity.
- Nav Beacons broadcast the name of their system in Morse code.
- If close to a Nav Beacon in normal space, it will appear in the Contacts panel and can be targeted. Destroying a Nav Beacon is not possible.
- Crashed Nav Beacons appear in some Points of Interest on the surfaces of planets and moons, and can be scanned with a Data Link Scanner to retrieve a Data Point Intel Package. They may also generate a random mission offer when scanned, and are occasionally guarded by Skimmers.
- Prior to Elite Dangerous: Beyond Chapter Four (3.3), Nav Beacons were an alternative means for pilots to uncover inhabited system data without needing to set aside an internal compartment for a Discovery Scanner. Since 3.3 converted the Discovery Scanner into an integrated function within all ships, the original purpose of Nav Beacons was rendered obsolete.