In TNG Season 4 Episode 9 ("Final Mission"), the Enterprise D is in the middle of handling a radiation hazard near Gamelan V, when it learns that a transport vessel carrying Captain Picard has not arrived on Pentarus V.
Why could the Enterprise not send a class-8 probe (or two?) to the Pentarus system, to search for their missing Captain?
- The Enterprise-D carries such probes.
- They are capable of Warp 9.
- The Pentaran miner's transport was using a sublight-speed shuttle, so it could not have gone far from its rendezvous point with the Enterprise, and, in fact, that point must be in the Pentarus system.
- The Enterprise's speed traveling to Gamelan was only Warp 6, and it did not travel for very long (otherwise it would not have kept such a leisurely speed for a rescue mission).
- Class-8 probes carry a "standard sensor pallet". One would assume that would be able to locate the transport, or relevant lifesigns, on different possible locations in the Pentarus system.