Federation Probes

Standard Probes - Special Probes - Uncertain Probes - Unknown Probes

 

Standard Probes

Most of the following Starfleet standard probes were mentioned in various episodes. The depictions and specifications are taken from the TNG Technical Manual, whereas an identification on screen was usually not possible owing to their small size relative to the starships. Possible inconsistencies in the appearance and performance of probes may be easily explained in that there are frequent upgrades, sometimes with new casings, in accordance with the DS9 Technical Manual.


Class 1

General description

This type of probes is equipped with a full EM/subspace and interstellar chemistry pallet for in-space applications.

Known probes

No name given
 

Annotations

  1. Probes of Class 1 were mentioned and shown in TNG: "Where Silence Has Lease", "Time Squared", "Pen Pals" and "The Defector". They were just mentioned in "Reunion". In "Where Silence Has Lease" there was a model looking like the TNGTM depiction. In "Pen Pals" it was just a light effect, but here it makes sense considering that Worf mentioned they would use torpedo casings for this particular mission. Finally, a display of the Mirror Defiant in "Shattered Mirror" depicted the Class-1 or Class-2 probe along with the Defiant MSD, hence confirming that probes looking like this really exist.
  2. The DS9TM states that the Class 1 has an effective range of 32*106km and a total delta-v of 0.6c. If this is true, it means a considerable upgrade of the device.

Specifications

Sensor probe
Range: 200,000km
Max. speed: 0.5c

 


Class 2


Class 2 variant

General description

This type of probes is equipped with a full EM/subspace and interstellar chemistry pallet for in-space applications. It is based on Class 1. In addition, Class 2 has enhanced long-range particle and field detectors and imaging system.
Gallery: Other Small Federation Vessels

Known probes

No name given
 

Annotations

This probe is visible in TNG: "The Most Toys", where is is just represented by a light. Additionally, Class 2 is mentioned in DS9: "Battle Lines". A relatively detailed model of the probe, closely resembling the design in the TNGTM, was built for VOY: "Real Life", although here it is once again only visible in the form of some lights.

Specifications

Sensor probe
Range: 400,000km
Max. speed: 0.65c

 


Class 3

General description

This is a planetary probe, with a full range of terrestrial soft landing to subsurface penetrator missions. Gas giant atmosphere missions are survivable up to 450bar pressure.  

Known probes

No name given
 

Annotations

This type shows up in TNG: "The Enemy" where is resembles rather Class 1 or 2 than the TNGTM depiction of Class 3. The probe is also referred to in DS9: "Valiant".

Specifications

Planetary probe
Range: 1,200,000km
Max. speed: 0.65c

 


Class 4

General description

This is a stellar encounter probe, modified from Class 3. The probe is equipped with triply redundant stellar fields and particle detectors and a stellar atmosphere analysis suite. There are six ejectable/survivable radiation flux subprobes, deployable for nonstellar energy phenomena.

Known probes

No name given
 

Annotations

  1. In DS9: "If Wishes Were Horses" such a probe is launched from Deep Space 9, but it looks quite different than the TNGTM depiction. Maybe this is already the upgrade mentioned in the DS9TM. The same detailed model (it looks much like s small starship, even with something looking like warp nacelles) is visible in "Rejoined" where the probe is launched somewhere from the Defiant's deflector. In addition, probes of this type are mentioned in TNG: "Rascals", "Relics" and DS9: "Children of Time". The Class-4 probe is used in TNG: "Relics" to study the Dyson Sphere, although it doesn't seem to be the best-suited type.
  2. The same model of Class 4 as in its previous appearances on DS9 is also used in DS9: "Meridian", this time for a probe whose designation is not mentioned but which is launched into a star's corona. Since this is exactly the purpose of Class 4, we silently assume it is another appearance of this very type.
  3. According to the DS9TM, the new effective range of Class 4 is 72.3*106km, and the total delta-v is 0.98c.

Specifications

Stellar encounter probe
Range: 3,500,000km
Max. speed: 0.6c

 


Class 5

General description

This is a medium-range reconnaissance probe, with extended passive data-gathering and recording systems. The probe has a full autonomous mission execution and return system and is capable of atmosphere entry and soft landing. It is coated for low observability and may be modified for tactical missions with a custom sensor countermeasure package. 

Known probes

No name given
 

Annotations

  1. Such a probe is mentioned but not shown in TNG: "Chain of Command".
  2. In VOY: "Blink of an Eye" B'Elanna modifies a Class-5 probe for low-orbit observation. Although the Class 5 is designed as a mid-range warp probe, the special environment of the "accelerated" planet may require its use (also because of its low observability). The probe seen in the episode looks like the multispatial probe (see below). This may be exactly the common new casing the DS9TM mentions for the combined Class 4 and 5.
  3. The DS9TM notes that "the class-4 and class-5 upgrades have been combined into a single new class-5-type hull casing". The new effective range of Class 5 is 84.2*109km, and the total delta-v is Warp 2.6.

Specifications

Medium-range reconnaissance probe
Range: 43*109km
Max. speed: Warp 2

 


Class 6

General description

This is a comm relay and emergency beacon, modified from Class 3. It provides 9270 RF and subspace channels, with a 360 antenna coverage and 0.0001 arc-second high-gain antenna pointing resolution. The probe features an extended deuterium supply for transceiver power generation and planetary orbit plane changes.

Known probes

No name given
 

Annotations

None

Specifications

Comm relay / emergency beacon
Range: 43*109km
Max. speed: 0.8c

 


Class 7

General description

This is a remote culture study probe, modified from Class 5. It is applicable to civilizations up to level III and has low observability coatings and hull materials. The maximum loiter time is 3.5 months. A low-impact molecular destruct package is tied to antitamper detectors. 

Known probes

No name given
 

Annotations

None

Specifications

Remote culture study probe
Range: 450*106km
Max. speed: Warp 1.5

 


Class 8

General description

This probe uses a modified photon torpedo casing. It is equipped with a standard sensor pallet and mission-specific modules. Its applications vary from galactic particles and fields research to early-warning reconnaissance missions.

Known probes

No name given
 

Annotations

A modified probe of this type was used for the transport of K'Ehleyr in TNG: "The Emissary".

Specifications

Medium-range multimission warp probe
Range: 120ly
Max. speed: Warp 9

 


Class 9

General description

This probe uses a modified photon torpedo casing. It is equipped with a standard sensor pallet and mission-specific modules. The typical application is an emergency log/message capsule on homing trajectory to the nearest starbase or known Starfleet vessel position.

Known probes

No name given
 

Annotations

None

Specifications

Long-range multimission warp probe
Range: 760ly
Max. speed: Warp 9

 

Special Probes


Atmospheric probe

General description

This may be another standard probe, but further specifications are unknown.

Known probes

No name given
 

Annotations

When the Defiant was trapped inside a gas giant's atmosphere in DS9: "Starship Down", this probe was modified and used to destroy a Jem'Hadar attack ship. Maybe this is just Class 3 in a new casing?

Specifications

None available

 


"Egg" type

General description

Dr. Paul Stubbs built this special probe to examine a stellar explosion.

Known probes

"Egg"
 

Annotations

The "egg" prop seen in TNG: "Evolution" was designed by Rick Sternbach. It is said to be a modification of the virus containment device originally built for TNG: "The Child".

Specifications

None available

 


Interface probe

General description

The interface probe is a remote-controlled device for investigations is hostile environmental conditions.

Known probes

No name given
 

Annotations

The probe appeared in TNG: "Interface" where Geordi controlled it through his neural interface. It may have been designed for indoor use and hence not a space probe in a classic sense, but could most likely be operated in open space as well.

Specifications

None available

 


Mars defense probe

General description

The Mars perimeter defense probes are used to protect the Sol system from hostile intruders.
Article: Analysis of the Qualor II Surplus Depot

Known probes

No name given
 

Annotations

  1. The miniatures of the probes, seen in TNG: "Best of Both Worlds", are made from a Soviet Typhoon-class submarine, with two Los Angeles-class submarines as nacelles.
  2. It is uncertain whether these probes are capable of Warp flight. It seems they are sublight probes, since they approached the Borg cube as late as it had already crossed the Mars perimeter.
  3. The studio miniature also appeared in the Qualor II junkyard in TNG: "Unification".

Specifications

None available

 


Microprobe

General description

Microprobes belong to the inventory of USS Voyager.

Known probes

No name given
 

Annotations

Microprobes were mentioned in VOY: "The Cloud" and "Eye of the Needle", represented just by a light effect.

Specifications

None available

 


Multispatial probe

General description

This special probe with Borg shielding belongs to the inventory of USS Voyager. Its exact purpose remains unknown.
Gallery: Other Small Federation Vessels

Known probes

No name given
 

Annotations

The multispatial probe must be something immensely valuable, as the crew took all the efforts and the danger to build the Delta Flyer and enter a gas giant atmosphere, only to retrieve this probe in VOY: "Extreme Risk". Its purpose, however, remains a mystery.

Specifications

None available

 


Radio beacon

General description

The radio beacon supports navigation and communication.
Gallery: Other Small Federation Vessels

Known buoys

No name given
 

Annotations

Voyager launched such a beacon while in "chaotic space" in VOY: "The Fight", where it served as a navigation aid. It is possible that this probe is a further development of the above Class 6.

Specifications

None available

 


Soliton wave rider

General description

This unmanned spacecraft was used for the test of the soliton wave as a new propulsion method.
Article: Analysis of the Qualor II Surplus Depot

Known probes

No name given
 

Annotations

The soliton wave test took place (and failed) in TNG: "New Ground". It makes sense that Starfleet would use an existing large probe resembling a starship for this purpose. It was not mentioned in the episode that the probe was specifically built for the test, so it could be the same type as the Mars perimeter defense probes whose miniature was re-used here.

Specifications

None available

 


Ultraviolet satellite

General description

The only purpose of these small satellites is to emit ultraviolet radiation. They can be deployed from 23rd century Federation starships in a planet's orbit and are energized via remote control.

Known satellites

No name given
 

Annotations

We can see the satellites for the first time in the TOS-R version of "Operation: Annihilate!". It remains unknown whether the no less than 210 deployed satellites were specially constructed to fight the neural parasite infestation on Deneva. Most likely the basic satellites were ready-made standard devices with power supply, radio receivers and attitude control. But they needed to be rigged at least with the ultraviolet emitters that don't sound like they could be available on standard-issue satellites or buoys. A lot of work for Scotty and his staff!

Specifications

None available

 

Uncertain Probes

It is uncertain whether the following probes whose name or purpose was not explicitly stated exist as distinct types. Maybe they just belong to one of the above standard types, even if they look somewhat different.


Emergency buoy

General description

This type of buoys can be launched from Galaxy-class ships to transmit the log entries.

Known buoys

No name given
 

Annotations

The buoy appeared in TNG: "Descent". Its purpose sounds very much like the one of the above standard probe Class 6.

Specifications

None available

 


Scanner probe

General description

It is unknown whether this could be one of the standard probes.

Known probes

No name given
 

Annotations

Before the standard probe of Class 1 is started in TNG: "Where Silence Has Lease", Picard orders the launch of a "scanner probe" that vanishes after a few seconds. The scanner probe is likely a device with fewer options and a smaller range than Class 1. On the other hand, Class 1 is already the least complex of the standard probes. The footage is identical to the later Class 1 probe in the same episode "Where Silence Has Lease". The probe would later appear as Class 3 in TNG: "The Enemy".

Specifications

None available

 


Uncertain probe 1

General description

It is unknown whether this is a distinct type of probes and what purpose it is used for.

Known probes

No name given
 

Annotations

A not further specified probe was launched in TNG: "The Outcast". While it resembled the standard types in the TNGTM, there is no perfect match. At least, it appears to be new footage.

Specifications

None available

 


Uncertain probe 2

General description

It is unknown whether this is a distinct type of probes and what purpose it is used for.

Known probes

No name given
 

Annotations

A not further specified probe was launched in TNG: "Lower Decks". It resembled the standard types in (Class 1 and 2 in the TNGTM, Class 1 and 3 on screen). This probe was previously seen as emergency buoy in TNG: "Descent" (see above).

Specifications

None available

 

Unknown Probes

Quadros 1, long-range probe, launched in the 22nd century, explored parts of the Gamma Quadrant, including the Idran system (DS9: "Emissary")

Vega IX, long-range probe that was sent to record the collapse of the star Beta Stromgren and discovered the living ship named Gomtuu (TNG: "Tin Man")
We may assume that Vega IX is the individual name of the probe.

 


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