Elite Dangerous Wiki

USS seen from a ship's cockpit

An Unidentified Signal Source or USS spontaneously appears throughout a star system during Supercruise. Targeting a USS will automatically scan and reveal its specific type, which can contain anything such as unique ship encounters or Commodities. Missions can send players to specific USS sites for bounty hunting, assassinations, and scavenging. USS types usually have an accompanying threat level designation ranging from 0 (harmless) to 9 (extremely dangerous).

Locating Signal Sources[]


USS displayed in a ship's Contact panel

Unidentified Signal Sources spawn anywhere in populated space, and occasionally in unpopulated space. They tend to spawn more frequently in systems with higher populations and traffic.

The type of USS and its contents that will spawn in a system is determined by several factors:

  • System allegiance (Empire, Federation, or Independent)
  • System state
  • System security (Anarchy, Low, Medium, or High)
  • System area (identifiable from the bottom left hand corner HUD panel)

The system areas which spawn different types of USS's are as follows:

Deep Space[]

Any part of space that is not a Sphere of Influence or a Shipping Lane. The fastest way to enter Deep Space is to fly 200 ls away from the primary star in a direction that is perpendicular to the orbital plane.

Shipping Lane[]

A commonly travelled route between arrival point and any inhabited place (as well as between such places). Traders and pirates usually fly along shipping lanes.

Sphere of Influence[]

An area around any celestial body or station, identified by the body or station's name. The size of the Sphere of Influence (SOI) is dependent on the object's size and mass.

Around landable bodies, the SOI will contain an area where Orbital Cruise is engaged. Any objects found in normal space inside this area are subject to the body's gravitational forces.

USS types[]

There are several types of USS:

Name Type Notes
Ceremonial Comms USS Contain non-hostile ships contracted for weddings and funerals.
Combat Aftermath USS Contains a debris field and several Manufactured Materials.
Convoy Dispersal Pattern USS A convoy of ships temporarily dropped into normal space, and presents a lucrative opportunity for pirates.
Degraded Emissions USS One of the most common signal types found anywhere including unpopulated systems. They contain various things.
Distress Call USS A Distress Call has randomly generated content; usually NPC ships in distress.
Encoded Emissions USS Randomly generated content where Manufactured and Encoded Materials can be obtained.
High Grade Emissions USS Debris with Rare and Very Rare Manufactured Materials. Occasionally there's a non-hostile ship.
Mission Target USS Contains mission objectives. They usually only appear after accepting a mission via the Mission Board.
Non-Human Signal Source USS Contains one of several Thargoid encounters based on the threat level (0-9).
Search and Rescue Patrol USS A roving ship equipped with a Fuel Transfer Limpet Controller that will provide fuel for any ship that does not have a full tank.
Weapons Fire USS Primarily contains pirates. There may also be System Authority Vessels (or factional equivalents) and/or other neutral ships present.


  • USS's are unique to each player and game instance. If a player sees a USS, the same USS cannot be accessed by another player unless the original player drops into the USS. Then, players or NPCs can follow the original player via their low-wake signal.
  • As of Beyond Chapter Four (3.3), USS's are semi-persistent objects. A USS will remain in place for a period of time after spawning, with a countdown timer indicating how long until the USS despawns displayed on the player's HUD when it is targeted.