Exploration involves using probes to scan down signatures to find relic and data sites, and then hacking the containers in those sites to obtain valuable loot. You can also find wormholes which connect to systems that are completely unreachable via normal stargates.
Relic sites are the best source of reliable income from exploration - data sites tend to have fewer valuable items, though occasionally you may find a very valuable item such as a rare blueprint.
If you choose to pursue exploration, you’ll want to use a ship with scanning and hacking bonuses, like the exploration frigates from each faction.
The best relic sites are found in either nullsec or wormhole space, both of which are relatively dangerous areas of space but the potential payoff is large.
Want to try wormhole exploration? See the Your First Wormhole page.
You can read more about exploration in the UniWiki ‘Exploration’ article, and more about wormholes in the UniWiki ‘Wormholes’ article. If exploring in dangerous space, you may also want to read up on how to create safespot bookmarks and use your directional scanner.
If you’re having trouble with the scanning interface, try looking through our scanning guide.
You will notice that many exploration guides mention cloaking devices. Alpha clones aren’t able to use cloaking devices, which means you will be a bit more vulnerable to attack. You’ll need to pay attention to your surroundings to avoid getting ganked while scanning and hacking.
Exploration can be an excellent source of income, particularly if you’re willing to brave the riskier areas of space such as nullsec and wormhole space. It’s also very good income relative to the amount of training required, as even a new pilot with basic scanning and hacking skills in a t1 frigate can potentially get the same loot as a high-skilled pilot.