PHO3NIX_F1RE

Early(ish) science gathering.

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Hi, long time lurker, first time poster.

A brief search yielded no results, so I thought I'd ask; during the early game (i.e, pre interplanetary travel), what are your approaches to science gathering? My second Mun mission had a few contracts that I could carry out at the same time, netting me around 700 science for one visit. 

Is it worth waiting for those missions before going to Mun/Minmus for the extra science/funds payout, or would I be better off going as often as possible and getting it all quickly?

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Given the sandbox nature of the game and just how much you can tweak the difficulty settings, I don't think anyone can really what is "best" in this game for most part.
The fact is that you can technically complete the whole science tree without ever going interplanetary. Money can also be rather abundant depending on your what you set the funds rewards/penalties sliders to.

Now, as far as funds per mission efficiency, it's only logical that you should go when you have as many contracts as possible and try to get as much science as possible from every trip. But you don't have to.

Also, welcome!

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1 hour ago, Ohm is Futile said:

Now, as far as funds per mission efficiency, it's only logical that you should go when you have as many contracts as possible and try to get as much science as possible from every trip. But you don't have to.

 

I used to do this (the gathering science part).  Now I purposely don't in order to get more Kerbals experience. For instance, I design a ship for Minmus and cover either one or two biomes.  After they return I use the same design with three different kerbals and hit a different 1-2 biomes.  Money doesn't seem to be an issue for me and I like for my roster to have as much experience as possible.  I do always try to do as many contracts as possible though.

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I tend to go with multiple missions, each carrying whatever science kit they can - even if pre-EVA or flag planting, its all worth doing, even single biome missions.

Rotate the crews to gain experience for later, each mission to Mun is likely unlocking a science advance, Minmus is similar but once you have a few more toys its two unlocks or one larger unlock.

I have a semi-standard mun lander that will do mun or minmus, not the most efficient design but it works reliably. hardest part is making sure each flight hits a fresh biome.

Plan to only go back for "missing" science when I make a better multi-biome lander.

Each flight goes when a 'plant flag on' mission crops up to pay for it, the landers descent stage has a probe so handles science from the surface contracts on its own.

 

Early science seems to be a case of have a goal in mind, I tend to aim for the 2.5m parts which make landers a lot easier to launch then science and probe tech to make other missions easier.

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Currently I'm playing with 60% science returns, and as soon as I have a station with a science lab I'm going to change that to 10% returns. I kickstarted the run with about 1800 science points I think, and I haven't actually unlocked very much more tech than what that gave me. Once I have a lab station up and running, I'll be transmitting all science data to that station (using the science relay mod) and processing it for extra science returns (which will be vital once I've switched to 10% returns). Honestly though I don't anticipate to get particularly far with the tech tree until I start sending probes beyond Kerbin's SOI, which I am very much capable of with the low-tech equipment that I've unlocked so far. It's a heavily modded game, so the early tech tree is filled pretty well.

I expect that the first missions beyond Kerbin's SOI will still not provide me with a whole lot of science, since they'll mostly be flybys and then orbiters. After that, most of the progress I make will be using lander probes, sample return probes, and crewed flyby/orbiter missions. I'm limiting myself on the number and also type of science experiments on a given vehicle, as well as with the fact that any experiments with less than 100% transmission value will need to be returned to Kerbin directly. I'll probably need to start sending missions to the giant planets before I can start unlocking nodes with over 300 science points.

Bear in mind though that this is only because of the self-imposed restrictions on myself to keep the game lengthy and interesting. At 100% science returns it's relatively easy to unlock the whole tech tree without leaving Kerbin's SOI, especially with DMagic Orbital Science installed.

Edited by eloquentJane

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Usually I'm more constrained by finances early than I am by science, since I play a slightly modified hard mode typically.  My early science usually consists of a few runway/Launchpad research vessels, followed by a 'hop n pop' vessel for low/high altitude, then I get orbital equatorial, upgrade for EVAs, and grab some extra science that way.  That's the really early science.

Add in some first world contracts and I'm golden.  From there, I'll usually do a non-upgraded flyby of Mun for free return, grab high/low science for Kerbin and High Mun enroute (whatever I can pile into the rocket), which will usually crack open satellites, which I'll get pad, admin, and tracking center upgrades from.  From there I just start wailing away on Mun with whatever contracts show up for funds.  Eventually, I ship up a reusable science lander for Mun and send up a few refuelers for it, then come back with a ton of science after hopping the biomes and just not care anymore.  Most of the top of the tech tree is just for fun for me, and I've become really disappointed with low end flight since the changes, so I don't care about 1/3 of the tech tree until it's at the 'oh, why not' levels.

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I play science mode on 50% returns and I usually have two labs going as soon as I get them. I'm not one to timewarp excessively and I don't like missing transfer windows so I don't feel like the labs are OP. My usual progress is to get all the Kerbin orbital science I can before sending a Mun mission or two, then one landing, then farming Minmus until I get decent interplanetary gear, like some habs or higher isp engines and larger tanks. I don't touch Kerbin SOI science after that except for LKO stuff before a transfer; I don't play the game in LKO.

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Early science spam:

pre-orbit: update the astronaut building to allow spacewalking.  This lets you grab up EVAs over each Kerbin biome (polar orbits might help, but don't run out of power before re-entry.  I just get the easy ones (and miss poles and badlands).

Mun/Minmus: you'll need to upgrade the science building to do surface samples (expensive).  It should be worth it.  Also expect to make sure you have the electricity level unlocked for Minmus landing (it used to be an issue for Mun, if you are reading this as an old thread it might have changed again).

Minmus's low gravity makes it ideal for science spamming.  Just look at a bio map (online) and try to hop from biome to biome.  To hit every one you might need to be able to dock and re-fuel (critical for trying this on the Mun).  To a certain extant this can be emulated by simply landing near a biome edge (flat/slope/other) and jetpacking from place to place (although you only get surface sample and EVA reports).

Don't forget to pick up the easy science lying around.  You can simply attach all your science gear to a capsule (no engines) and "launch", collect all the science and recover.  Then head over to the airplane hanger and do the same on the runway.  I've built "rovers" back when they were higher on the science tree and can't recommend them, they take too long to drive around for the little science you get, simply blasting to the Mun (or probes to Duna/Eve) is quicker and has much more science.

Probes!  If you can put a kerbal on the Mun you can send probes to Duna/Eve (in fact, both NASA and Russia were doing so in the 1960s before Apollo 11), just check about communication issues because I have been ignoring that (KerbalNet is a new thing).  This might involve simply waiting for a proper window, so some might not play that way.

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My game stages are:

* Just starting out: Everything before ISRU

Lots of contract driven flights and occasional Mun visits

Generally uses Tourist and Rescue contracts for fund-raising

* Early Game: Kerbin SOI

Once I have ISRU, I start building my standard design rockets with Mk3 cargo bays holding ISRU and usually a Lab.  

Mun and Minmus are farmed for 99%+ of available science as part of 1-3 training missions

Rescue contracts still used for fund-raising, with tourists usually tagging along on training missions(Mun flag+refuel, Minmus flag+refuel, Kerbol SOI, return)

* Mid Game: Local Colonization and inner planets

Generally by this point all populated nodes in the community tech tree are researched or do not contain any desired parts.

Interplanetary voyages to Moho/Gilly/Duna and Kerbin SOI colonization missions (generally using USI-MKS by RoverDude)

Interplanetary missions generally have the same form-factor as the training vessels but more fuel and ore storage.

Funding is rarely an issue at this point.  Will generally collect on multiple contracts per trip.

* Late Game: Interplanetary colonization, Voyages to the outer planets

Funds are largely irrelevant and science is just a number(exception: current game has KR&D, so more science means more parts at <50% mass and > 100% performance)

 

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For the very early game, see http://m.imgur.com/a/0zCVG

I usually head for the Mun and Minmus as soon as I have solar panels. Stick a probe core somewhere and you don't need a pilot; crew it with a scientist to reset experiments and you can clean out Minmus with a single set of science gear and reenter with just capsule/heatshield/parachute.

It isn't too hard to build a Munlander with 10,000+ m/s ΔV, and if you do that you can hop to half a dozen different biomes in a single trip. Which will give you science returns like this:

NLO0Fg7.png

 

Strongly recommended: set all of your science gear to trigger on a single action group. And try to build it so that you can reset the experiments without having to jetpack all over the place.

Edited by Wanderfound

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