Particle traces are inventory items the player may find while scanning Anomalous Readings either in space or on the ground. They may also be collected after a critical success on some Duty Officer assignments, or scoring 775 or higher on a site in Dilithium Mining.
There are ten unique traces:
 List of particle traces
- Particle traces of the same type can stack up to 250 units.
- The Multiphasic Event which is available every day increases the likelihood that you'll find particle traces on every part of the map, regardless of whether you're in space or on a ground mission.
- Unlike ordinary data samples, particle traces are not geographically tied to specific Exploration Clusters. Although it may occasionally appear as though certain traces are in certain sectors, such appearances are deceiving. Careful analysis reveals that any particle traces can be found anywhere on the map, even when there is no Multiphasic Event ongoing.
- Particle traces may not all be equally rare. Prices on the exchange, as well as short term analysis of actual scanning results, seem to suggest that some particle traces are found more often than others. Assuming that the exchange is a more-or-less reasonable marketplace, governed by supply and demand to some degree, one would expect that the various traces would all have roughly the same price. However, this is demonstrably not the case, immediately suggesting an imbalance in either supply or demand. Actual scanning results do point to some traces being more common than others — Duderon being by far the easiest to get in mid-July 2012 — though it's possible that this is perfectly random chance only seeming to favor one result over another. The exact mathematical mechanics behind rare sample discovery are, for obvious reasons, a Cyrptic company secret.
- Originally, the sole purpose of collection Particle traces was the Trace Tracker Accolade. With Season Three: Genesis, these are now used to craft items. They are also necessary inputs for some other assignments, such as “Advanced Analysis of Particle Trace Data Samples” and “Infuse Alien Artifact with Rare Particles”. Most of these trace-requiring missions are available from your ship's Engineering Deck, but there are also a few randomly-encountered assignments which need one or two particle traces, like “Research Improved Phase Discriminators”, which can be found whilst traveling in the Eta Eridani Sector Block.
- Before the release of Season Three: Genesis particle traces were Bind on Pickup.