Protectorate exploration drones are autonomous spaceship used by the Pentagon Protectorate to collect information about space phenomena like star systems, black holes and nebulae.
The drones are about 110 meter long, thin vessels equipped with various sensors designed to scan planets, solar systems and other space objects, store the information and return it to a Protectorate planet to be stored in the Protectorate Knowledge Bank.
In their two hundred years of existence the drones haven't changed at all, even to the point of still using regular casted metals. This makes them extremely cheap, an useful feature when considering their relatively high loss rate due to trying to open wormholes to almost completely unknown areas. On the other hand, it makes the drone capable of delivering only somewhat basic data compared to what a modern drone could offer.
Standard equipment of each Protectorate drone consists of a sensor array used to collect electromagnetic radiation, samples of planetary atmosphere, and small asteroids and multiple high-precision videocameras to take photos for comparsion; onboard computer to analyse the results from the sensor array and guide the vessel; a single ion thruster; and a nuclear fission reactor to generate enough energy for all systems.
The drones were designed for a galaxy map project started over two hundred years ago. In the time since beggining of the project the construction and maintenance costs of the drones became minuscule when compared to other technology, allowing the project to advance at an increasingly rapid rate. By 2600, five nearest nebulae were explored, save for a few star systems skipped for various reasons.
Drones collect mostly general astronomic data like planet and conditions and various mathematical variables needed for the Point Jump station to accurately determine a safe place the open a wormhole in. If a system is deemed interesting, a more advanced ship is sent it to collect data the drone is unable to offer.