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The term sensor, also referred to aboard starships as subspace sensors, is used to refer to any device which is used to scan, record, or otherwise observe any aspect of an environment surrounding a starship, space station, or person. This could be as simple a device as a manual camera or light sensor, or as complicated as the myriad devices designed to scan many aspects of the matter and energies of subspace, space, time and stellar bodies that make up all of existence.

There are two basic types of sensor arrays employed: passive and active. A passive scan is less obtrusive than an active scan, and may not be detected by the subject being sensed.

Also, sensors may be divided into short and long range types.

  • Short range sensors detect anything in the immediate environs of the sensing ship, and can scan the surface of planets from orbit.
  • Long range sensors are typically used for items at least half a light year away, and can extend for objects that are several hours travel time away.

There are many ways to mask a sensor scan, sensor screens are the most commonly used. One can also mask a sensor scan with certain materials, or radiation. But to truly hide from a sensor scan one would actually have to change one's molecular structure.