Ground-penetrating scanner

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Ground-penetrating scanner

Ground-penetrating scanner

A sensor unit used by researchers to search for buried resources. The chance to find a resource depends on the operator's research ability. It consumes a lot of electricity. If you find a buried resource, you'll need to use deep drills to extract it. It doesn't work under a roof.

Base Stats

Market Value
655 Silver [Note]
Path Cost


3 ˣ 3
pass through only
Cover Effectiveness
Terrain Affordance
-700 W


Required Research
Ground-penetrating scanner
Skill Required
Construction 8
Work To Make
12,000 ticks (3.33 mins)
Resources to make
Steel 150 + Component 4 + Advanced component 1
Deconstruct yield
Steel 75 + Component 2 + Advanced component 0 - 1
Destroy yield

A ground-penetrating scanner detects and illuminates underground deposits of resources, which can be mined with a deep drill.


Ground-penetrating scanners can be constructed once the Ground-penetrating scanner research project has been completed. They require Steel 150 Steel, Component 4 Components, Advanced component 1 Advanced component, 12,000 ticks (3.33 mins) of work, and a Construction skill of 8.


Ground-penetrating scanners consume 700 W of power and do not function under a roof. Scanning falls under Intellectual work. When operating a ground scanner, there is a mean of 180,000 ticks (3 in-game days) of work to find a deposit of ores. Finding a deposit is guaranteed after 360,000 ticks (6 in-game days) of work. These values are then modified by the Research Speed of the users in question. These ores can be mined with a deep drill.

Scanners technically create ore deposits. You will never find ores with a deep drill without a scanner, and scanners can find an infinite amount of resources in a given map. Ores and their extraction are not affected in any way by the existence of ice.


The resources contained in a deposit correlates with the size of the deposit. Each cell of resources contains 300 units of the resource. Below is an estimate of the different deposit sizes:

  • Resource Deposit Size Deposit Mean Commonality Portion Size Avg Deposit Return
    Steel Steel 20 - 40 ~ 30 4 35 Steel 9000
    Silver Silver 7 - 20 ~ 14 0.5 40 Silver 4200
    Plasteel Plasteel 2 - 10 ~ 7 1 7 Plasteel 2100
    Jade Jade 1 - 5 ~ 3 0.5 10 Jade 900
    Gold Gold 1 - 5 ~ 3 0.5 10 Gold 900
    Uranium Uranium 4 - 10 ~ 7 1 10 Uranium 2100

    Alternative table:

    Resource 1-5 6-10 11-15 16-20 21-30 31-40
    Steel Steel - - - - Check.png Check.png
    Silver Silver - Check.png Check.png Check.png - -
    Jade Jade Check.png - - - - -
    Gold Gold Check.png - - - - -
    Uranium Uranium Check.png Check.png - - - -
    Plasteel Plasteel Check.png Check.png - - - -
  • Analysis

    Ground-penetrating scanners can provide an indefinite amount of minerals, such as steel and plasteel. These resources can bottleneck mid/late game colonies. Ores are finite, traders only carry a few hundred steel each, and smelters are limited by raiders. Each ground deposit provides an average of 9000 steel. As long as you have a decent miner, a ground scanner or two is a worthwhile investment. Even if you don't have a spare researcher to scan for ores, any idle colonist can be set to research to contribute to the scanning effort.

    As you can just scan for more ore, it typically isn't worth it to travel halfway across the map for a single deposit. Other than the power consideration, your deep drillers will have to travel a long way back and forth, and will be less secure against raids. If you do need to travel, you might want to create a bedroom and dining area to reduce walking time. The drill can be put in a room with high beauty, to please the miner.

    • The ground-penetrating scanner itself is not usable if there is a roof over it, though they can be placed in rooms if you need to regulate the temperature. A minimum of 24 tiles is required for temperature regulation; the 9 tiles of open roof will make heating inefficient, but it is possible. Having a larger room with double-thick walls allows for more efficient heating.
    • Scanning is considered a Research task. Using a research bench or long-range mineral scanner will always be higher priority, and will be done first whenever possible. If you want pawns to actively scan for ore, you can either turn off any of your hi-tech research benches, or set an allowed area that excludes areas with research benches.

    Comparison to long-range scanners

    The long-range mineral scanner can find readily mineable ores on the world map, as opposed to ores that need to be drilled. The long-ranged scanner costs the same research as Deep Drill + Ground Scanner combination, though the former is required to research Starflight Sensors.

    Ground-penetrating scanners create much more ore per deposit (9000 vs 2300 average steel), find ores roughly 60,000 ticks (24 in-game hours) faster than the long-range scanner, and you don't have to leave your colony to access it. This makes it much easier for multiple miners to operate multiple deep drills. However, it finds random ores in random locations. You may find a deposit that's too far away to reasonably drill, and it may take a while to find minerals that you need at the moment. Finally, drilling can trigger the Too Deep: Infestation event.

    Long-range scanners are tuned to a specific ore, making it much easier to find a specific material, like plasteel. Mining ores on the surface takes much less work than drilling for them. However, they require a caravan or transport pods for both ways of the round trip. When traveling through rough terrain, it can take multiple days just to get to location. The weight of all the ore is often an issue - pack animals are often necessary to carry all the ores back. And because each ore lump has a specific threat, you will need to bring enough firepower to handle it.

    In general, ground-penetrating scanners are better when you have multiple good miners available. While drilling is slow, having multiple drills expiates the process, and each scan brings lots of material. In addition, not leaving the base means that everybody can contribute towards defense. Long-range scanners are better with great scanners, but when miners are lacking. Even with good miners, the long-range scanner can be superior if you need a specific mineral, right now.

    Version history

    • Beta 19 - power usage was significantly reduced from 1500W to 800W. Its build cost was also changed, previously costing 400 steel and 12 components.
    • 1.1.0 - Reworked; previously it showed all minerals on the map instantly. Now it requires work by a pawn and will periodically find new mineral patches, forever. Its power cost was also slightly lowered to 700W.
    • 1.1.2564 - Rebalance. Random find time 4 work days->3 work days. Guaranteed find time 8 work days -> 6 work days. Now displays feedback about the current user's scanning speed, the random scan interval for this user, and the progress to a guaranteed find.