Exploration is a key part of a TextSpaced as it expands the opportunities for where your faction can build and operate. Additionally, since you can only FTL jump to discovered systems it aids travel for the entire faction. Any time a new system is discovered it is added to the factions discoveries for every faction member to be able to see. Within systems of course there are bodies and those bodies can also be charted revealing abundant consumables that can be gathered.
The bodies in systems vary in type ranging from common types such as asteroid fields to more exotic types such as white holes and spatial filaments. Discovering more exotic bodies can help factions immeasurably as these bodies tender to contain new or rare commodities and consumables that can be collected. But even common types can be useful as they increase mining sites of often needed commodities and provide new places to build.
Exploration is performed from within the helm window and with the options in a group labelled "explore". You can either choose to explore in the negative direction or in the positive direction from where you are, choosing one of these options will start the exploration idle activity. While you are exploring you will travel indefinitely at sublight speeds until a system undiscovered by your faction is found, upon which time your ship will stop automatically. The new discovery is synced with your faction immediately and once you arrive in a system you can view the details of any body present.
To review the details of bodies in the system you can access the helm window and use the first group labelled "bodies". This overview of the bodies provides the body name if it has been given one (in an unclaimed system this will just be unnamed), the body type, a faction claimant if the system is claimed and the number of commodities that are available to mine from the body. Clicking any of these attributes will give you more information about the body and the contextual menu provides options to chart the planet, gather upon it and orbit the body as applicable - charting and gathering are discussed later.
The body details reiterates the name and type and faction owner if applicable and then describes the body type itself. Below this a group labelled "commodities" allows you to see the exact amount of each commodity remaining with the option to mine the body for that specific commodity. If there are other ships orbiting the body these will also be shown, along with any structures that have been built upon or around the body. If you faction owns the system, you can click a structure to view its details including its hold contents. The last section is labelled "abundant consumables" and if the planet has been charted by your faction, will list consumables that can be gathered.
It is worth noting that sometimes you will be able to see an undiscovered systems from afar, this happens if you are close by and the system has a powerful enough star that it can be seen from your relative distance. Different star types have different ranges they can be see, and some ships are more sensitive to detecting this and therefore have greater ranges. If such as system is detected, it will show in the nearby system list as "undiscovered" giving you the option to travel to it at sublight speeds.
If you plan to explore and push back the veil of the frontier it is wise to prepare yourself. Firstly, if your main aim is exploration as quickly as possible you should aim to command a ship that has a high sublight speed and if possible, fit afterburners to the ship to increases its speed further. The fastest your ship is at sublight speeds, the quicker you will travel and therefore the sooner you will discover new systems.
Although exploration is performed at sublight speeds, having fuel available is advantageous as it allows you to get back to civilisation quicker using your discovered systems as jumping points. Since claiming a system is done by building structures, often its wise to return and retrieve a construction role ship for this purpose - or notify a faction mate - so that valuable systems can be claimed by your faction.
Lastly, the deeper you travel into space, the more likely you are to be attacked by Outlanders. For this reason it is wise to fit some weapons to your ship, as you may need to defend yourself. At the very least, carrying some shield cells can help in a dire situation.
Charting a planet is a time-based idle activity that typically takes 8 hours to complete, however this time can be reduced through skills and crew. The time can also be significantly decreased if multiple faction members chart a body at the same time. You can stop and start charting at any point and progress will be retained. Once charting is complete the body can then be gathered upon. As a separate idle activity, gathering involves trying to collect the abundant consumables found from the charting of the body, as listed in the body details. Gathering takes time but skills can decrease the time it takes to gather, such as the "gatherer" skill.
Gathering is very useful as often the consumables can be traded, used to complete missions or supply colonies. Additionally, botanically consumables regrow over time, so finding valuable botanics can often be a proverbial gold mine.
To begin either charting or gathering visit the helm window, view the local bodies and interact with the contextual menu. Either chart or gather will be active depending on if you have completing charting before or not. If both are disabled it is likely the body cannot be landed upon or another faction owns the system and has prevent landing in some manner, such as the use of a planetary shield.
Any time you discover a new system or finish charting a body your flexibility factor will increase granting you a skill point. Ultimately this will allow you to realise new skills, including "Recon Craft" which provides the ability to purchase more powerful exploration and recon ships. If you continue to pursue exploration this will push your flexibility factor higher and higher making it more difficult to unlock some other skills, but this should only concern you if you plan to be a generalist.