Since Elite: Dangerous’ upcoming ‘Horizons’ expansion will be adding planetary landing to the game’s mix of activities, it stands to reason that there’ll be some actual things to find on those surfaces.
In the latest game newsletter, Frontier Producer Michael Brookes has outlined a few of the ‘points of interest’ that eager planetary explorers might stumble across. It seems like they’ll primarily fit into either “natural” or “man made” categories (though, intriguingly, it’s said that there will be some “that don’t neatly fit into those two groupings”); I’m just going to engage in wild speculation here and say that means alien stuff.
Anyway, the natural group will encompass mystery mineral deposits and meteorites, which Brookes indicates will sometimes be used to upgrade your Elite: Dangerous ship, or the SRV buggy used for exploring planet surfaces.
Man-made points of interest might be something like an old mining complex, or a (possibly guarded) military base, or a crashed ship that may have spread its cargo across the surface (just waiting for a merry trader to take it).
While inside your ship, the on-board scanning equipment will give you “a vague knowledge” of what sort of points of interest a planet may contain. To find out for sure, you’ll be needing to take a drive in your SRV.
That’s exactly what David Braben has been up to recently, as you can see in this recent teaser video showing more (multiplayer) SRV activities.