Finding an exit means scanning for wormholes

11th April 2010 – 3.29 pm

After killing five miners in our neighbouring w-space system, and their hauler, it is decided to collapse our connecting wormhole. Personally, I don't really think our neighbours pose any serious threat, partly because we have just sent six of them back to empire space without ships, and partly because the additional pilots available didn't quickly jump in to really nasty ships to teach us a lesson. As it is getting late and we aren't likely to be clearing any sites of Sleepers now, I'm not entirely sure what threat we are expecting. But the wormhole is being collapsed, and it doesn't really matter one way or the other. Unless, of course, the operation goes awry and someone gets trapped on the wrong side when the wormhole disappears.

Luckily, we are aware of the risks, and the ship that inevitably gets trapped on the wrong side of the collapsing wormhole is fitted with a probe launcher and scanning probes. It's good that it is too, because the next wormhole along, used not half-an-hour before to bring our colleague back in from empire space, has now also collapsed, leaving no straightforward exit to empire space. Our scanning man is trapped in w-space until he can scan a new exit for himself, which won't be too easy in a battleship. Not only does his ship not give bonuses to scanning, but the mass of the ship restricts his possible exit routes. Whilst he looks for a way out to k-space, the rest of us once again jump in to scanning boats to find our new static wormhole and a new exit so that he can jump right back home again.

I am using my 'most likely percentage' (ML%) method of finding wormholes in systems, but I have modified it with a cunning addition. After jumping in to a new system, rather than probing the wormhole back completely and then ignoring the signature, I put a single probe on the wormhole at a reduced sensitivity that will still let me retrieve its signature reference but without resolving the signature itself to 100%. This is crucial for the new comparison. If a signal is resolved to 100%, it is always returned as 100% regardless of the sensitivity of the scanning probes. If it is not resolved to 100% then the return signal is only as strong as any other result within the probes' range.

With the signature reference noted, I make an overall scan of the system with a standard probe configuration. I now have a list of all the signatures available, but with the wormhole back listed normally amongst the rest of the signatures. I can compare the signal strength of a known wormhole with those of other signatures in the system, without having to make mental adjustments for different probe ranges or using different hardware. For example, if the return wormhole shows up as having a 4·56% signal strength, and I want to find other wormholes, I am best served looking for other signals with a similar strength.

Although ladar sites still have similar signatures to wormholes, being able to quickly compare all returned signatures against a known wormhole signature can offer valuable time savings. Using this method, I am able to pick a wormhole out of all the signatures in the system on the first attempt. Jumping through and continuing my scan, three ladar sites interfere with my initial results before I locate a low-sec exit, two jumps to high-sec. Our scan man has also found his way out to empire space, but he is thirty-six jumps away from the exit I found. He doesn't much fancy making the journey in a battleship at this late hour, even without the low-sec hops, so we'll have to look for a new exit another day.

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