Searching an asteroid belt


Banded Mongoose
I dropped a breadcrumb into my campaign: the Harrier was listed as having been built at "Raddington & Sons Naval Yards, Angleton asteroid belt, Stross". Knowing my players, they would eventually twig to it, and go "hey, I wonder if there's anything salvageable left in the Angleton belt, let's go look".

This was before I realized just how enormous asteroid belts are.

The Belter rules in High Guard aren't really applicable. They wouldn't be scanning every rock: they'd just be looking for an enormous chunk of refined metal -- very strong radar returns -- so only the occasional nickel-iron asteroid will give them a false positive. But even given that, it's going to take months if not years to search the entire belt. Is there a way to do it any faster? Or do I need to plan another breadcrumb to give them a more precise location?
Outside of very high tech level sensors suites (i.e. magic) I cannot think of any real-world way to do this quicker.

Perhaps they run into a belter in a space port bar in a nearby system who is willing to sell them the rough location of "the largest gravitic anomaly I have ever seen"
when they arrive in-system their sensor scans pick up a ship that has already discovered the site
perhaps the ancient site has some still functioning navigational beacon that is only decryptable by the harrier's systems
Let them do Investigate/Admin/Streetwise checks in nearby systems to find as up-to-date navigational info on the belt as possible, as well as more info on the shipyard. Let them work the nearest Scout base for the same info, and rumors. Naval bases may have similar info/rumors if they are so inclined.

A success or two should give them the “quadrant” that is most likely to have what they’re looking for, maybe even a chart of the belt that’s a couple years old… they could maybe do some Prof (prospecting)/Astrogation/Science (planetology) checks to narrow it down further.

Play it out in one week long “turns” so you can keep the session moving, but hit home the scope the of what they’re attempting.

I don’t know, just spitballing. Interested to hear what you come up with.
If your Harrier was built there, maybe or certainly, the ship might have coordinates for it's original shipyard. Cross reference these with modern charts, do a little orbital mathematics and narrow it down to a search that will need the desired time frame. Then have them find out that the shipyard asteroid was bombed badly and its orbit destabilized. They will need to follow the bread crumbs made from rocky asteroid parts and find the damn rock on a collision course with a much larger asteroid in the belt. From there, it's all about ideas and good rolls.

I remember him as if it were yesterday, as he came plodding to the inn door, his sea-chest following behind him in a hand-barrow—a tall, strong, heavy, nut-brown man, his tarry pigtail falling over the shoulder of his soiled blue coat, his hands ragged and scarred, with black, broken nails, and the sabre cut across one cheek, a dirty, livid white. I remember him looking round the cove and whistling to himself as he did so, and then breaking out in that old sea-song that he sang so often afterwards:
Condottiere said:
I remember him as if it were yesterday, as he came plodding to the inn door

Thank you for your input, Mr. Stevenson. Although I think "The Wrecker" or that depressing short story about Uncle Gordon might serve as better inspiration. :)
Maybe there’s records in the (notoriously disorganised) archives at the Scholars’ Tower with clues to its location. (Science/History)

Maybe it was located in a region of the belt with a higher than average number of metallic asteroids. (Science/Planetology or Science/Geology)

Maybe there’s still emergency generators or other active equipment on the station that would create energy signatures, or maybe a large amount of radioactive waste products. (Electronics/Sensors)

Or just do all three of those as a task chain.
Experience indicates you don't have to know everything, but you do need to know what questions to ask, or where to look.