Trying to find wormholes in w-space

5th February 2010 – 5.39 pm

Initial training is complete, I can fly another new ship. I don't have the new ship yet, as not being able to fly it until now has made it difficult to bring one in to our home w-space system. Now seems like a good time to go shopping. First, I must scan an exit to New Eden. As is generally the case, I find the wormhole leading out of our home system quickly and easily, and this gets me thinking about the possibilities of spotting wormhole signatures early. I can't repeat a specific task too many times without trying to make it more efficient, which often results from spotting patterns, and scanning is no different.

It seems that, on a scan of our system, the static wormhole gives an initial reading of a little under 5% scan strength. I have probably used this information each time I begin to scan for an exit to New Eden, just not explicitly recognising so. Signatures with higher strengths on an initial scan tend to result in common mining sites. Those with weaker signals will result in uncommon or rare deposits, as well as magnetometric and radar sites. At least, this is my intuition. As I jump through the new wormhole to find an unoccupied neighbouring system full of signatures, I wonder if I can apply my intuition to find wormholes or specific types of site more quickly. When I want time in known space, I don't want to spend ages looking for wormholes, and if a fleet will form later it is good to find the best sites to plunder. But maybe there are other aspects to scanning to consider.

I start thinking about the random nature of wormholes, and where they appear. They could be truly random, or they could be more likely to appear in certain regions of space. Maybe they lurk close to planetary bodies, or rarely lie on the ecliptic plane, or prefer to be further from the star than nearer. Maybe two wormholes cannot form close to one another. That I haven't noticed any pattern doesn't really suggest anyting, unfortunately. By the time a signature is resolved to the point of recognising it as a wormhole, the solar system map is magnified sufficiently to account for the high resolution of the scan probes, and any relative locational information of the wormhole's position is lost. Now that I recognise this, I could probably start to pay attention to wormhole locations, if not for another factor.

When a signature is first scanned, its position is enormously vague. It is a risk to reduce the scan resolution of the probes by two steps, centre the probes on the signature's estimated position, and hope to get a better reading. That a site can feasibly be over 4 AU away from its first scanned signature suggests that even if a pattern of wormhole locations can be found it will not be a reliable method for choosing initial signatures to scan. I can continue to try to locate wormholes based on my 'most likely percentage' method, although I will need to adapt it based on solar system size. Our home system can be scanned entirely by a probe pattern at a resolution of 16 AU, but other systems are larger and require half that resolution. The relationship to scan strength is probably non-linear, and maybe something I ought to research if I want to modify my initial number of 'almost 5%'. The scan strength also needs to take in to account skills, probe type, and ship rigs, but these generally remain static.

My research and practice in to locating wormholes goes a bit awry when Tranquility, the EVE Online server, crashes. When I can get back in to space all of the signature references have been changed. And, of course, my list of ignored signatures, those that I had identified as gravimetric or ladar mining sites, has reset. I need to scan the whole system again. Another problem with trying to determine signature attributes of wormholes is that after resolving two dozen signatures I tend to want to progress from scanning on to a more interesting activity, like flying AFK on auto-pilot. The twenty-fourth signature I resolve turns out to be a wormhole, and I gladly jump through it.

On the other side of the wormhole I find an occupied system, complete with miner, but it too is full of signatures, which is peculiar. Normally, the more profitable sites are cleared first, before the less-challenging and easier to find anomalies. But when I find the Covetor and mining drones that appear on the directional scanner, I learn why there are so many sites. Despite the presence of the drones, the mining barge is not busy mining but sitting inside a tower's shields. I was quite hoping to grab my Manticore if he had actually been mining. The drones are nearby, in a warp disruption bubble, possibly being used as a weak trap. A colleague points out that the pilot of the Covetor is in a two-man corporation, where the other member may well be an alt, so it's no surprise that the Sleeper sites remain undisturbed.

Luckily, in this wealth of opportunity, my first choice of signature to resolve, a most-likely percentage scan result, turns out to be another wormhole, this one leading to a low-sec system in New Eden. An exit. I go back to the tower, drop off the bookmarks, and grab my Crane. I head back to corporation HQ to refresh my BPO ME research jobs, but I don't pick up a new ship. Scanning has taken so long that I don't have the time to research and buy all the fittings for the ship, so I may as well wait for a more opportune day. As it turns out, a colleague continues scanning and finds a high-sec wormhole in a class 1 w-space system neighbouring the one with the low-sec exit. But more wormhole engineers are arriving, and we have sites to plunder.

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