ISA (Innsewerants Space Agency) MapSat is an open source built add-on for Kerbal Space Program. It is an extremely informative add-on, giving you the ability to map planets and moons, showing you your current position, providing you with an informative "Kerbalpedia" (with information on all the planetary bodies) and showing points of interest.
ISA MapSat contains two parts, a satellite dish with which you can scan terrestrial bodies in order to create maps of them and a smaller GPS unit that can display the maps but not add to them.
The ISA MapSat dish and GPS unit cost 750, have minimal weight (0.01) and no drag so they will not affect the abilities of your spacecraft significantly.
How to install
Continue by unzipping the file. You will see four files: Parts, Plugin, PluginData; and a Read Me file.
Open a second screen and go to your KSP file. Copy the contents of the ISA MapSat files into the KSP files of the same name (e.g. ISA Parts contents -> KSP Parts File, etc.).
Start KSP, build a rocket, slap an ISA dish onto it and light your roman candle.
If you are planning to map a celestial body, follow these tips.
- While taking off, wait until you get into the upper stratosphere (the second layer) and then start making your turn north (or south, though north is easier to see on the navball). Try to put the dot right next to the North/South line, this should give you enough distance to be 15° off the north and south poles (see next tip for reason).
- Fly polar, but not too polar. Try to aim 15° left or right of the poles. This way you can cover a lot of ground reasonably quickly. Your polar resolution (how much you see the poles on your map) will be low, but your satellite repeatedly passing near them will improve it gradually.
- Aim for an altitude between 300 and 350 km. This gives you the greatest range for the best resolution so you can complete your mapping in a timely fashion.
- Forum member gracae86 has posted a detailed list of all the Ideal Mapping Orbits in the Kerbol system. A good rule of thumb is to have your orbit slightly above or below a synchronous or semisynchronous orbit (Because the cycles of resonances will grow exponentially towards infinity towards major fractions).
- Keep your screen open. If you go to another spacecraft, it will stop mapping. It is, however, possible to leave KSP running in the background while you use other applications with a spacecraft continuing to map, provided you have selected it and not switched to another craft or the KSC.
- You may wish to accelerate to 10x speed. Although this slightly reduces polar resolution, you will probably want to do this as it can take a few Kerbal Days to finish the mapping of a planet. That said, don't be overzealous and speed up 50x. Your mapping will automatically stop if you do this.