Elite Dangerous Wiki

USS seen from a ship's cockpit

An Unidentified Signal Source or USS is a category of signal sources that will spontaneously appear throughout star systems during Supercruise. Targeting a USS will automatically scan and reveal its specific type, which can contain anything from unique ship encounters to Commodities and more. Missions can also send players to specific USS sites to for bounty hunting, assassinations, and scavenging. Most USS types have an accompanying threat level designation ranging from 0, or harmless, to as high as 9, or extremely dangerous even for experienced pilots.

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.

Types of Signal Sources

There are several different types of USS:


  • 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.