A Strange Alien Artifact is primarily obtained upon completion of “Negotiate Delivery of Rare Commodities” and the followup, “Negotiate Additional Delivery of Rare Commodities”. These assignments are generally thought to be part of the "Children's Toys" assignment chain — though this "chain" is really only a loose collection of assignments, rather than a series of compulsory steps. Since the cool down period on the "Additional" assignment is three days, Strange Alien Artifacts are somewhat rare, and thus expensive on the exchange. Its value of 100 EC bears absolutely no relation to what it actually sells for, which is typically in the hundreds of thousands of EC.
A secondary track for getting Strange Alien Artifacts is through the various artifact hunting assignments, including "Recover Artifacts from...", "Collect Artifacts from...", "Salvage Artifacts from...", "Study Ruins on..." Very occasionally, critical success in these missions can result in one, and in very rare occurrences 2, Strange Alien Artifact.
Nevertheless, the single most reliable way to get a Strange Alien Artifact remains “Negotiate Additional Delivery of Rare Commodities”.
The info for the item reads as follows:
Go to your ship interior and speak with the Science Officer in Main Engineering to examine the artifact, making it possible to create a ship console of exceptional capability out of this artifact.
- Ensure you have a free Research Lab Scientist DOFF
- From inside your ship, take the turbolift to Engineering.
- Run nearly to the end of the hallway in front of you, and turn into the second to last doorway on your left.
- Find the Science Officer inside Main Engineering and speak with him.
- Select Special Projects -> Decipher Markings on Artifact
This will generate a new assignment in your DOFF assignments area.