Sensor Contact Explanation

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Sensor Scans

When scanning for vessels (friendly or enemy), a Starship has three methods by which to locate and identify contacts:

Sensor Scans
Passive Sensor Scan: Passive scanning works by remaining silent and "listening" for objects emitting radiation, or for radiation being reflected off an object by a source that is not doing the scan. Though this kind of scan does not reveal a ship's location, sensor contacts at long range will likely be inaccurate or incomplete, requiring the distance between sensor and contact to be shortened.
Active Sensor Scan: Active scanning works by echolocation, whereby a modulated tetryon pulse is transmitted so that there is a reflection off an object (such as another starship). To measure the distance to this object, the time from the transmission of a pulse to reception is measured and converted into a range by knowing the speed that a tetryon pulse travels through space. The danger of active scanning is that it broadcasting such a radiation burst may reveal the ship's position to hostile vessels in the area.
Visual Scanning: Very close range only. The vessel uses its visual sensors (or the eyes of its crew) to locate and identify another vessel. This can be achieved by spotting the outline or shadow of the vessel, or by spotting the engine glow or running lights.
Weapon/Probe Scanning: Results fed to a ship's computer by a linked torpedo, probe or sensor buoy. May be configured as an active or passive scan, drawing attention away from launch vessel, though transmissions between ship and scanning device may be detected and traced.

Sensor Contacts

Sensor Contact Result
Sensor Contact (Passive): S followed by contact number.
Sensor Contact (Active): A followed by contact number.
Visual Sensor Contact: V followed by contact number.
Weapon Sensor Contact: W followed by contact number (usually only the case when a torpedo or probe has been fired at a potential target and is still updating/being updated by the launch vessel.)

Note: If a contact is on being detected by any two or more of the above sensor methods, the signature changes to Master (M) and retains the number it was initially identified with. A ship with a transponder broadcasting is automatically classified as a Master contact, as it is announcing its position and type.