A ship's Signature is a combination of electromagnetic radiation refraction properties combined with thermal and visible band radiations that combine together to form a tell-tale sign of an anomalous object in space, usually, but not always, referring to a ship. [source?]


Spacecrafts are extraordinarily advanced vessels which combine a suite of different systems, all of which use power in some form. The core power plant of a ship uses hydrogen as a reactant to generate power which is distributed to the various subsystems of a ship. As modules and subsystems draw power, they tend to radiate electromagnetic energy, e.g. light. [source?]

As they operate, ships give off varying degrees of different kinds of radiation, from thermal to electromagnetic to even visual light. These patterns are received and computed by another ships targeting system and generate a baseline for the kinds of emissions it receives. The baseline is compared to a databank of known ship signatures and an enemy pilot can be reasonably certain as to the nature of the enemy craft. [source?]

This allows identification of ships before they come into visual range; if a baseline Signature shows all the patterns of emissions of a Hornet, a pilot has the knowledge of the kind of ship that they will be facing. [source?]

Though Signatures are normally referred to when considering ships in space, all sorts of spacial phenomenon have unique signatures. For instance, a Black Hole radiate varying kinds of electromagnetic and cosmic radiation. As such, anything in space, even an asteroid, has a signature. [source?]

In Game Terms

How a signature works for or against a ship has yet to be revealed, however there are a few extrapolations we can make.


Thermal radiation can play a role in heat-tracking weapon systems. If a missile tracks heat signatures, than the more thermal energy an enemy ship radiates then the more accurate the missile will be. In space, a system nearly devoid of thermal energy, heat will be one of the most basic and useful emissions when locating and tracking ships. [source?]

Reflection/ Refraction

Some ships, like the Hornet Ghost, are equipped with special armor plates that absorb and refract incoming EM radiation that is used for active scanning. As such, if it is struck with EM radiation of an enemy ship that is searching for it, the armor plates will absorb rather than reflect the radiation. The end result is the Ghost being much harder to detect than an ordinary vessel that reflects the radiation back to the enemy ship's sensors. [source?]

Locking Time

For weapon systems that rely on locking on to a signature, such as missile, the larger the signature the easier time the weapon would have to lock onto it. Thus, if a ship produces lots of radiation that is easily detectable, then enemy ships will be able to locate, lock on and fire their weapon systems faster than they would be able to a ship will a smaller signature radius. [source?]



Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.