You might recognize the current probe version as a wireless router, and that’s indeed what it is when we buy it off the shelf. However, the RIPE NCC adds its own firmware to it and connects it to a hierarchical control and data collection service, which, the RIPE NCC also built and maintains. RIPE NCC makes the probe source code publicly available because it wants everyone to have the opportunity to contribute to RIPE Atlas at the core level.
Once the probe is connected to your network, it constantly performs a set of built-in measurements: ping, traceroute, SSL, DNS queries to the root name servers and limited HTTP measurements. It does not look at traffic or content.
The RIPE NCC collects data produced by all these probes and provides Internet maps, tools and visualisations based on the aggregated results. The data is also made available to anybody who wants to study the health of the Internet.