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Science

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A lander on Duna to gather scientific data
An image of the GUI after doing an EVA report

Science, sometimes called science points, is needed to unlock new parts in the technology tree. It is obtained by performing different scientific activities in different situations and biomes (where available), then either returning to Kerbin and recovering the craft or transmitting the activity data home with an antenna.

Contents

Science activities

This is an overview of all science activities which can be performed and how results differ by biome and situation. Activities performed within one sphere of influence(SOI) have no effect on the Science Points that can be earned doing science activities within the SOI of any other celestial body.

Biomes

Biomes are areas of a body's surface defined by an additional map in KSP game data. Experiments may have different results when performed in different biomes; this means more opportunities for fresh Science Points. Currently only the planet Kerbin and its moons, Mun and Minmus, are fully detailed with biomes.

Some combinations of activity and situation ignore biomes and give the same result wherever performed within an SOI; these combinations are marked " Global " in the table below.

Situations

Situations reflect the flight status of your craft or kerbonaut relative to a celestial body. There are six possible situations, some of which may be irrelevant to a given science activity or unavailable on a given celestial body.

  • SrfLanded: in contact with the terrestrial surface
  • SrfSplashed: in a liquid body on the surface (such as oceans)
  • Flying Low: above the surface at any height, if and only if an atmosphere is present
  • Flying High: in the upper atmosphere, if and only if an atmosphere is present
  • In Space Low: above the surface at any height and not in an atmosphere
  • In Space High: high above the surface and any atmosphere but still in its SOI

Again, an atmosphere is required for the situations "Flying Low" and "Flying High" and for using the PresMat Barometer and the Sensor Array Computing Nose Cone. Also, KSP only considers a craft (or Kerbal) to be flying in an atmospheric region if it is on a sub-orbital trajectory. For example, taking readings while aerobraking in the upper atmosphere will return data for the "In Space Low" situation instead of "Flying High" even if the altitude is below the edge of space.

Table of science activities and situations

The top row of the chart names each activity; the left hand column shows the six possible situations. Each intersection shows whether the activity is possible and, if so, whether it differs by Biome or gives one Global result for the entire celestial body for a given situation.

Activities and situations requiring an atmosphere are italicized and colored.

Kerbonaut Capsule Modules
Surface Sample EVA Report Crew Report Mystery Goo™ Containment Unit SC-9001 Science Jr. 2HOT Thermometer PresMat Barometer GRAVMAX Negative Gravioli Detector Double-C Seismic Accelerometer Sensor Array Computing Nose Cone
Surface: Landed Biome Biome Biome Biome Biome Biome Biome Biome Biome Biome
Surface: Splashed Biome Biome Biome Biome Biome Biome Biome Biome
Flying Low Biome Biome Global Global Biome Global Biome
Flying High Global Global Global Global Global Global Biome
In Space Low Biome Global Global Global Global Biome
In Space High Global Global Global Global Biome

Surface Sample

Requires One kerbonaut
Base value 30
Maximum value 40
Data scale 1
Transmission efficiency 25%
Processing bonus +12%
Processing energy 300 E

Surface Samples can be taken by kerbonauts when performing an EVA on the ground or in water of a celestial body. The results vary by biome and are different while swimming within the biome too.

EVA Report

Requires One kerbonaut
Base value 8
Maximum value 8
Data scale 1
Transmission efficiency 100%

EVA Reports are done by kerbonauts on an EVA. Like crew reports they give different results depending on altitude and biome (if performed low enough). Only one EVA Report per biome/situation combination is necessary. The easiest ways to take a Flying Low report are to jump from the surface, or hang onto a ladder whilst landed.

A kerbonaut can only take and hold one EVA Report at a time without storing it in a Command Pod, though reports retrieved from a Command Pod have no limitations on how many of a type can be carried.

Crew Report

Requires A manned command pod
Base value 5
Maximum value 5
Data scale 1
Transmission efficiency 100%

Crew Reports can be created in any manned command pod. Reports uniquely differ between celestial body and situation. Because the transmission efficiency is 100%, repeating them or transmitting them multiple times yields no additional Science.

If a command pod has taken a Crew Report but not transmitted it, it cannot take a new report even when in a new situation, biome, or sphere of influence. This limitation can be circumvented by having a kerbonaut on EVA "take data" from the command pod. Even if they store the data in the same command pod it was taken from, the Crew Report will be treated as just another piece of data to store. A second Crew Report can be taken even in exactly the same spot; no additional points are yielded by duplicate Crew Reports though.

Modules

Experiments done by separate parts like the Mystery Goo™ Containment Unit behave similarly to Crew Reports. They may be performed in different flight phases and on different celestial bodies returning different results. Each module can only store one result at a time, but a result can be sent home with an antenna to allow the experiment to be performed again under the same or under new conditions. Data can also be extracted from the module by a kerbonaut during an EVA. There is a penalty for transmitting data home instead of recovering the module to Kerbin.

Since version 0.23, transmitting or collecting data renders the Mystery Goo™ Containment Unit and SC-9001 Science Jr. disabled for the remainder of a flight. If the craft has (or can be docked with) a fully crewed lab, it can reset those modules at a cost of time and electric charge.

Experiment Mystery Goo Observation Materials Study Temperature Scan Atmospheric Pressure Scan Seismic Scan Gravity Scan Atmosphere Analysis
Required part (tech tree lvl) Mystery Goo™ Containment Unit (2) SC-9001 Science Jr. (4) 2HOT Thermometer (5) PresMat Barometer (6) Double-C Seismic Accelerometer (7) GRAVMAX Negative Gravioli Detector (8) Sensor Array Computing Nose Cone (8)
Base value 10 25 8 12 20 20 20
Maximum value 13 32 8 12 22 22 24
Data scale 1 1 1 1 2.5 3 10
Transmission efficiency 30% 20% 50% 50% 45% 40% 35%
Processing bonus +15% +10% +25% +25% +22% +20% +17%
Processing energy (E) 100 250 80 120 500 600 2000

The transmission efficiency caps the maximum returnable science with the experiment via antennae. To gather all scientific value experiments needs to be recovered.

Mobile Processing Lab MPL-LG-2

The Mobile Processing Lab MPL-LG-2 improves the value of science data before transmitting it; it has no effect on data kept aboard. Crew Reports and EVA Reports have no penalty on transmitting them, so lab processing doesn't benefit these two. For others, it can squeeze out points from reports that at first have "+0.0 Science" value to transmit. It can also clean the Mystery Goo™ Containment Unit and SC-9001 Science Jr. to reuse them after transmitting or collecting data.

Both cleaning and processing required a certain amount of time and electric charge. Cleaning an experiment requires the same amount of energy as processing its report data.

The Mobile Processing Lab MPL-LG-2 can also store multiple copies of scientific data - even those from the same experiment in the same situation & biome. For example, a lander could conduct three material studies with separate SC-9001 Science Jr. units, rendezvous and dock with a ship containing a Mobile Processing Lab MPL-LG-2, then have a Kerbal on EVA "Take Data" from each SC-9001 Science Jr. and place it in the lab. This must be done once per piece of data, as a Kerbal can only store one type of unique data at a time. Most experiments can be 'maxed out' in a single trip by recovering three or four samples.

Craft recovery

Recovering a craft after it landed on Kerbin also yields science points by itself. Its value depends on how far the craft flew. Recovering a craft after a suborbital flight returns less valuable (but different) results than one which orbited the Mun, for example. The returned value appears to be 5 * (surfaces visited + bodies orbited).

Celestial body multipliers

Surface Atmosphere [note 1] Space
Celestial body Multiplier Multiplier Border Multiplier Border [note 2]
Sun N/A N/A N/A 11 1 Gm
Moho 9 N/A N/A 8 80 km
Eve 12 7 22 km 7 400 km
Gilly 9 N/A N/A 8 6 km
Kerbin 0.3 0.7 18 km 1 250 km
Mun 4 N/A N/A 3 60 km
Minmus 5 N/A N/A 4 30 km
Duna 8 7 12 km 7 140 km
Ike 9 N/A N/A 8 50 km
Dres 8 N/A N/A 7 25 km
Jool N/A 7 138 km 7 4000 km
Laythe 10 9 10 km 9 200 km
Vall 10 N/A N/A 9 90 km
Tylo 11 N/A N/A 10 250 km
Bop 12 N/A N/A 9 25 km
Pol 12 N/A N/A 9 22 km
Eeloo 15 N/A N/A 12 60 km
  1. Suborbital flight necessary for atmosphere readings, having the periapsis inside the atmosphere start is not sufficient.
  2. Many of these altitudes are taken from users reporting on the forum and not from game data itself.

Each celestial body has different multipliers applied to the collected scientific data, based upon where it is taken in relation to that body. Biomes do not affect these multipliers.

The altitudes given in this table determine the altitude above mean sea level of the boundary between lower and upper atmosphere and between near and outer space. The upper atmosphere extends to the atmospheric height and the outer space extends up to the end of the sphere of influence.

Getting science to Kerbin

To get the science to the Research and Development facility the report has to be in a part which stores it or transmitted with an antenna. The reports can be stored in the instruments they were created in, collected into an EVA suit or stored in a command pod. The command pod does not have to have a kerbonaut in it to store reports, but it must be capable of holding a kerbonaut. Probe cores can not store reports. It is possible to exchange reports between EVA suits and command pods freely but reports can only be collected from instruments. While on EVA, right click on an instrument or command pod and select "Take Data" to pick up a report. To save a report in a command pod, right click and select "Store Experiments" or have the kerbonaut board the command pod. A command pod can only hold one report of the same type and location at a time, although an EVA suit can hold multiple reports of the same type and situation. This can lead to extracting multiple reports on EVA which then needs to be destroyed except one when the kerbonaut wants to enter the capsule. After touch down on Kerbin the parts or kerbonauts can be recovered and the full scientific value gets added. Unlike transmission of science reports, there is no penalty for moving the report from an instrument to a command pod or from one command pod to another.

The other possibility is to transmit scientific reports back. This is possible at any time after creation. Usually there is a maximum value which can be transmitted listed as “transmission efficiency”, except for the crew and EVA report which have no penalty. With a lab it is possible to increase that efficiency. Some instruments are also locked after transmitting requiring a lab to clean them for reusability. Antennae don't require a line-of-sight to Kerbin and can be pointed in any direction to transmit. No data will be lost while transmission, and the current situation doesn't change the efficiency.