Science

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How often must multiple experiments be done to gather all (transmittable) science?

The first few stages of the Tech tree, showing the unlock system
An image of the GUI after doing an EVA report

Science, sometimes called science points, is needed to unlock new parts in the tech tree. It is obtained by performing different scientific activities at different locations and then either returning to Kerbin and recovering the craft or sending your scientific analysis home through an antenna.

Science activities

This is an overview of all science activities which can be performed. Most activities are restricted to certain heights. Currently[outdated] the planet Kerbin and its moons Mun and Minmus are divided into different biomes. On some heights, some experiments return different results per biome.

Possible activities in different locations
Location Crew Report EVA report Surface Samples Experiments
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
On the ground Biome Biome Biome Biome Biome Biome Biome
(if atmosphere exists)
Biome Biome
(only solid ground)
Biome
(if atmosphere exists)
Lower atmosphere Biome Biome Once Once Biome Once Biome
Upper atmosphere Once Once Once Once Once Once Biome
Near space Once Biome Once Once Once Biome
Outer space Once Once Once Once Biome

The game only considers a ship to be in the atmospheric region if it is on a sub-orbital trajectory. Trying to take upper atmosphere readings while aerobraking, for example, will return data for "near orbit" instead, even if the ship is within the atmosphere.

Crew Reports

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

Crew reports can be created in every manned command pod. Each command pod can only store one report at a time (Kerbonauts seem to be unable to memorize more than one at a time), but they can be sent home with an antenna without penalty allowing the crew to create a new one.

Crew reports differ between current celestial body, altitude, and at low altitudes also between different biomes. Only one crew report per biome is necessary and additional reports won't yield any more results. Because the transmission efficiency is also 100% only one transmission is necessary too.

EVA Reports

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/altitude combination is necessary. The easiest ways to take a low atmosphere reading are to jump from the surface, or hanging onto a ladder whilst landed.

In contrast to crew reports and experiments, a Kerbonaut can memorize a different report for each condition he performed an EVA in during the mission.

Surface Samples

Requires One kerbonaut
Base value 30
Maximum value 40
Data scale 1
Transmission efficiency 50%
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.

Experiments

Experiments are done by separate parts like the Mystery Goo™ Containment Unit and behave similar to crew reports. They may be performed in different flight phases and on different celestial bodies returning different results. Just like crew reports, each experiment part 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. There is a penalty for sending it home instead of recovering the performed experiment. Since 0.23, transmitting data renders the Mystery Goo™ Containment Unit and SC-9001 Science Jr. disabled, so only one experiment per module can be obtained during single mission. A crewed lab can reset those parts which takes a certain amount of time. The results of an experiment can be taken out by a kerbonaut on EVA and stored in a command pod for example. Like transmitting it will disable the Mystery Goo™ Containment Unit and SC-9001 Science Jr.

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 12 30 8 12 21 21 21
Data scale 1 1 1 1 2.5 3 10
Transmission efficiency 30% 20% 50% 50% 45% 40% 35%
Processing bonus +15% +10% +25% +?% +?% +20% +?%
Processing energy (E) 100 250  ?  ?  ?  ?  ?
[verify]

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 is required to improve the science getting from sending it back. As crew and EVA reports have no penalty on transmitting them, a lab is not required for those two. It can also clean the Mystery Goo™ Containment Unit and SC-9001 Science Jr. to reuse them after transmitting data.

Both cleaning and processing required a certain amount of time and electric charge. To clean an experiment a total of 400 E is needed.

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

Celestial body On the surface Atmosphere Altitude Space Altitude [note 1]
Sun N/A N/A 11 1 Gm
Moho 9 N/A 8 80 km
Eve 12 7 ~20 km 7 400 km
Gilly 9 N/A 8 6 km
Kerbin 0.3 0.7 18 km 1 250 km
Mun 4 N/A 3 60 km
Minmus 5 N/A 4 30 km
Duna 8 7 12 7 140 km
Ike 9 N/A 8 50 km
Dres 8 N/A 7 25 km
Jool N/A 7 ~118 km 7 4000 km
Laythe 10 9 ~10 km 9 200 km
Vall 10 N/A 9 90 km
Tylo 11 N/A 10 250 km
Bop 9 N/A 8 25 km
Pol 9 N/A 8 ~21 km
Eeloo 9 N/A 8 60 km
  1. 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. It is possible to exchange reports between EVA suits and command pods freely but reports can only be collected from instruments. A command pod can also 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 scientific value gets added.

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.