Getting the Most from the Mission Explorer

The Mission Explorer module contains a powerful search capability; this tutorial covers getting the most from that!
Common tasks which the search can assist with are:

  • Commodity searches - Find stations with a certain quanity of a particular commodity (eg 50 tons of palladium)
  • Station facility searches - Find tech broker/material trader stations near my current location
  • Highest selling price searches - Find the stations with the highest selling price for the minerals I've just mined (and the closest)
  • Finding Signal Source materials - Find the systems with a specific BGS pattern
  • Completing Source and Return Missions - Commodity searches

Update from EDDB

Since most of the tasks involving search require accessing the database, we need to ensure that it's up-to-date.
To do this, go to the Database Tasks tab on the Mission Explorer window.
This portion of the database is dedicated to importing the systems, stations and commodities from EDDB. To keep the size of the database down we only import the systems which are populated.

Click on the EDDB Import buttons in the two EDDB Import sections. This will take approximately 5 minutes to complete.

Cougar Display - - EDDB import

Tip: To automatically keep the database as up-to-date as possible, the Settings tab allows you to schedule imports of the stations and commodities. If your playing lots of missions within Elite, frequent updates are recommended.

Search Basics

Now that the EDDB updates are out of the way, we can begin making use of the database and the search facility.
Let's start with the Commodity Search tab on the Mission Explorer window. The top line of this window displays the current system name, your ship, it's landing pad size, your cargo capacity and the jump range (unlaiden). If this is empty it's because Cougar Display hasn't yet received a loadout event from Elite Dangerous; this event is generated when you load your current commander in Elite.

Cougar Display - cmdr ship

This section is important because once the system knows your location and ship capability, it can then calculate stations and systems near your location taking into account the number of jumps to get there (more on this later)

The main part of the search is split into three regions, each one focusing on the input that relates to the region.
Cougar Display - search areas

  • Search (Station and Systems selects the portion of the database to search on. If in doubt, search on Combinded which is the combination of both stations and systems.
  • Common Search Filters is a set of conditions to be applied to the search. These conditions are applied to all searches and thus are always in effect.
  • Commodity Search is an optional set of conditions which are useful when looking for a specific commodity and quantity (for Elite Missions, for example).

It's important to know right from the start that all three sections are always affecting your search results. Hopefully the defaults values for the filters are sensible so that they don't exclude too many entries from the results. (for example, this means that Station Options and Pad Size filters are always being applied to every search)
1. Search (Station and Systems)
The first setting you need to select from is the Search type
Cougar Display - search type

This drop-down list contains one of:
  • Stations
  • Systems
  • Combined
By selecting a Search Type, the Filter drop down list is then populated with different values. This filter contains commonly used filters that would be generally useful to any kind of search. For example, with "Stations" and "Combined" selected as the Search type, the filter contains different station types (asteroid base, outposts, fleet carriers, etc); with systems selected, it contains super power factions.
Cougar Display - search type filter

With a Search Type selected, the search buttons become available and the results of a search are immediately carried out (all using the common search filters).

Note that with the different search types selected, the columns returned in the results set are different.
When "combinded" is selected as Search Type, there is a Quick Search option available
Cougar Display - quick search filter

Quick Search is a set of filters, pre-configured, so that searching is quick and easy. The results, however, can still be tweaked because the common Search Filters are also used to refine the results. See later on for what quick search can do for you.
Searching involves the use of filters and search criteria. The Search (stations and systems) region contains a filter plus two additional and optional custom search criteria.
Cougar Display - search criteria

Custom search (string) and the associated drop-down list allows you to add string-valued constraints to the search.
Custom search (numeric) and the associated drop-down list allows you to add numerical constraints to the search.
Each of the Custom search drop-down lists contain all numerical or string fields avaialble from the Search Type table. If the Search Value contains an entry, then the search criteria is active; if it's empty then it's not active. Finally, after adding your custom search criteria, clicking either Search or Search near me buttons executes the search. Note that for the numeric values, 0 would mean false and -1 would mean true if the field was a yes/no (true/false) field, eg refuel,blackmarket,repair, etc.


Let's work with an example.
Suppose we want to find all Ocellus Starports in high security systems with population > 10,000.
To do this we would select the following Search Type, Custom search criteria and Filters.

  1. Set Search Type to "combined", Custom search (String) to "security", the "Contains" action, with a Search value (String) of high
  2. Set Custom search (Numeric) to "population", the "Greater than" action, with a Search value (numeric) of 10000
  3. Set the Filters to the "Ocellus starport".

Cougar Display - search result

The results show the number of records found. Tip: Clicking on the column titles will sort the results.

2. Searches near me / Common Search Filters
So far the basic search button has searched the entire database and found matching systems/stations according to your criteria - namely attributes of those stations and systems, eg faction name.

What if you want to find the closest station to your current position?
Well, the system knows your current location and offers a simple way to reduce the number of results returned back by the search function. This is where the Common Search Filters come into play.
Every search so far has included the use of the filters in the Common Search Filters region. You may have not even noticed that it was being used - that's because the default values are generally the useful ones.
Cougar Display - common search

By default, the system searches all results. If you click the search near me button then the current system or specified system (Sol if it's blank) is used as the reference point.
Additionally, Station Distance and Star Distance are used to filter the results returned. If you find too many results, try reducing these values and conversly if there are too few results.
Tip: These two values can be blank, this allows any star distance or station distance in the search.

Station Options These options filter the results so that only certainkinds of stations are returned in the results set, for example planetary bases are excluded by default. To set these options takes a bit of getting used to. There are 3 combinations that the check boxes can be set to. Firstly the option can be checked/unchecked - eg Docking. This means that the option is either included or excluded from the search filter. If it's included, then the yes/no checkboxes add to the filter with either true or false.

The landing pad size filter in the Commodity Search region also filters the results. The default is to use any size your ship supports, but you can target a specific size if you wish.
Cougar Display - pad size

BGS Searches
Some times it's desirable to locate specific types of USS drops when material hunting (eg Imperial Shielding). To do this you'll want to find systems that are in a particular state.
By selecting Custom search (String) field "State" an additional BGS state ceriteria is shown.
Cougar Display - search BGS

Using this, you can select multiple states that a system has to be in.
This is particularly useful for material hunting, or miners looking to find stations/systems with a specific pattern of state to get high selling prices.
Void Opals with a selling price of 1.6M CR are found when the states are Boom or Investment, plus Expansion, plus Civil Liberty, plus either Public Holiday or Pirate Attack.
Void Opals with a selling price of 1.1M CR are found when the states are Boom or Investment, plus Expansion, plus either Public Holiday or Pirate Attack.
The best search results for miners are to be found using the Quick Search as this contains dedicated search criteria for BGS states.

Quick Searches
There are some occaisions where setting all the filters and search criteria would be too cumbersome.
To help, a special filter has been created - Quick search
This filter is used to search for any of the following:
  • Interstellar Factors
  • Tech brokers / Guardian Tech brokers
  • Material Traders (raw, manufactured, encoded
  • Highest selling stations (Void opals/LTD

You are then free to click either Search or Search near me buttons to search. Common Search Filters are also in effect (so landing pad size is taken into account).
3. Commodity Searching

Commodity searching adds the ability to include any available material and quantity into the search criteria. The Category drop-down list is a quick way to find the commodity you may be looking for. By selecting an entry, the Commodity drop-down list is populated with the entities for that category.
Cougar Display - search commodity

When a Commodity and Quantity are specified, the search function will limit the resulting stations to those offering the specific item for sale. Note this could be out-of-date by the time you reach the station due to the delay between the community gathering data and the update to EDDB database.

Click the Find button to execute the search. This search is always a "search near me" variety and thus the Common Search Filters are also in effect when the search is performed.
Results from the Commodity search are ranked, and the ranking is based on cmdr ease and convienience. For example, a system 2 jumps further away is favoured more than a long supercruise journey; a station with a small landing pad is favoured over a large pad station (quicker to dock).
Cougar Display - search commodity results

When a rank is negative, it means that the entry has been boosted by the algorithum and is thus the best match. When a rank is above zero, then that system has been negatively impacted by the algorthium and is not considered optimal.