Elite Dangerous has a complex material system used to purchase upgrades for ships and gear. The grind for these materials is one reason Elite Dangerous is one of the longest PC games to beat. Materials can be gathered through a wide variety of methods: some are acquired through missions, others through salvage, and some must be collected from the debris of enemy ships. Many of them are acquired through mining either the rings of a planet or nodes on its surface.

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Mining rings is a game loop all to itself, and not everyone wants to engage with it. Of all the Raw materials, only Lead and Rhenium can be found exclusively in rings, so prospecting on a planetary surface can provide most Raw materials much more easily. Prospecting might seem intimidating at first, but with a little know-how and some practice, commanders can easily use planetary prospecting to gather most of the Raw materials they need without too much hassle.


Finding a Suitable Planet

While there are many beautiful planets to see in Elite Dangerous, not every planet can be surface prospected. They need to be landable of course, and they need to have reserves. The level of prospectable materials is denoted under the “Description” tab for that planet in the System map. They also need to have Geological signals. In the “Planetary Information” tab, near the bottom, there’s a field for “Features.” If Geological signals are listed, mining nodes can be found on that planet. The number of Geological signals indicates the number of different kinds of nodes that can be found on that planet’s surface.

The materials that can be found on that planet are listed under “Planet Materials.” For commanders in search of particular materials, Spansh.co.uk has a searchable database that can be used to search for specific planets that have Geological signals and where that material is present in abundance.

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How to Find Mining Nodes

After commanders find a suitable planet, they need to approach it and land on its surface. Planetary approaches are a top-tier experience in Elite that place it firmly in the list of most cinematic sci-fi games.

The planet can be surface scanned for some extra credits, but surface scanning isn’t necessary for finding mining nodes as of the release of Odyssey. When Odyssey was released, static nodes were removed in favor of placing nodes randomly over the whole surface of the planet. A scanned planet is covered with a blue heat map that shows the prevalence of Biological signals. This doesn’t show Geological signals, but it can help commanders who are also looking to pick up a few Biological samples while on the planet’s surface.

Once landed, the commander needs to deploy their SRV to head out in search of mining nodes. The SRV’s scanner will register anything of interest in the direction the SRV is facing. The scanner picks up cargo racks, ships, mining nodes, and more. The further away something is, the wider the radar’s reading will be.

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Different Mining Nodes

Mining nodes come in a variety of types. Each has its own distinct reading on the radar. Mining nodes of different types drop different materials. These are the different types of nodes:

Deposits:

  • Bronzite Chondrite
  • Mesosiderite
  • Metallic Meteorite
  • Outcrop

Volcanic protrusions:

  • Crystalline Cluster
  • Crystalline Fragments
  • Needle Crystals
  • Piceous Cobble

Needle Crystals and Metallic Meteorites have the highest likelihood of dropping the rarest materials. Piceous Cobbles always drop the lowest-grade materials. Otherwise, the nodes drop a random assortment of the materials present on the planet.

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How to Collect Materials

Collecting the materials is a simple process. The SRV’s Dual Repeater makes short work of the node itself. When it’s destroyed, the materials explode out of it. If it’s a low-G planet, the materials can travel quite some distance before touching down. Once the materials are out of the node, deploy the Cargo Scoop, target the material, and drive over it. Each individual pick-up provides three of that material and takes no cargo space since it goes into the commander’s Inventory instead.

Commanders just looking for specific materials might get lucky on their first try. Otherwise, they’ll need to continue scanning the area, driving to nodes, blasting them, and picking up materials until finding what they’re looking for. It isn’t a great way to make money or advance any ranks, but spending time prospecting on the surface of a planet is a good way to build up much-needed materials.

Commanders looking to extract as much as possible from a planet before leaving can do so by targeting craters and canyons. While these places have more difficult terrain, they also tend to have more mining nodes. The SRV’s booster is especially effective at clearing long distances or reaching high places. Take some time to get used to it and it’ll make the whole experience more efficient and enjoyable.

Elite Dangerous: Odyssey is available on PC.

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