Ozelui

Mun circunnavigation (Elcano challenge)

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As the title says, this mission is a circunnavigation of Mun for the Elcano Challenge:

However, for my crew it doesn't mean going in a straight line from A to ... well, A again the long way.  The plan is to collect science from all the biomes, mark anomalies and complete as many surface missions as possible (career mode).

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The rover is quite light under 10T, so i simply attached it as cargo to the nose of a ship used to carry fuel from the Minmus refineries to LKO and equipment from LKO to Minmus and Mun.  This is a new design i'm using to replace my old transports, it's pretty much the same, but with big docking ports for cargo stability, better solar panels and upgraded comm gear.  It also carries a little bot to move cargo to stations and to move the big heat shield under the ship to the rear docking port, to speed up the aerobreaks when returning to Kerbin.

This is not the original launch, i forgot to record it so i recorded it again and left a second rover in a Mun equatorial orbit in case it was needed.

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Jebediah Kerman, director of operations and explosions of the KSP, and badass in general, personally selected Elixie and Jean as the crew, based on very strict criteria. (i.e. they were aboard a ship in LMO when the rover arrived and had the right professions :wink: )

 

DAY 1:

This is Mun base Alpha, a simple base with a few oudated vehicles, and starting point of the journey.   There used to be ore just below the base, but suddenly one day it was gone. (game update to 1.2.2)  The scientists keep studying the sudden dissapear, but orbital surveys still show big ore deposits in the area, and to locate them is going to be the first mission.

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Flag time for Elixie:

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And there they go!

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Finding ore was actually very easy, and as soon as they approached the nearby canyon, less that 1 km away from the base, the scanning module began beeping.  And the science-o-meter also began beeping for the new biome.

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This crater was a nice opportunity to collect science from the lowlands and midland craters...

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...and to mark the first anomally, a monolith. What strange species planted this structure here and why?  Do they have tasty snacks to share???

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Next, the flat area north of Base Alpha was perfect to test the rover speed. 45 m/s seems about the top (safe) speed. Faster than that and the "small jumps" are not so small, and the "landing" not so smooth.  Anyway, the travel to Farside Basin was quick.

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Keeping the north heading, a pair of surface experiments to complete a contract:

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Surprise!   And this is the reason why the rover has two thrusters below, because of the ninja craters hiding behind hills!  The ability to orbit / deorbit is just a side effect (but very welcome).

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Don't try this at home!  Jeb will be proud of these two kerbonauts...

Unfortunately, the next barrel roll didn't go so well, and this is the sorry state the rover had after.  Energy generation was all but gone, with only the small solar panel on the top still remaining.  The docking port on top was gone too, and the RCS tank connecting to the cockpit didn't look good either.  Also, the direction was damaged and the rover had a tendency to turn to the right.  However, the science was intact and the kerbonauts alive.

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With 1000 EC the rover was able to reach the other side of this big hole, the first sign we are near the north pole. But after that last effort the batteries were empty.  By the way, this biome is the highlands, so more science to carry!

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So, time to deorbit that second rover. The burn to send it near the north pole required a lot of fuel, but that was not a problem for the transport:

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The rover handled the landing without problems too:

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A few km later, the kerbonauts were rescued, and passed all the science and the remaining RCS to the second rover. All the RCS was stored in the side tanks, and it really helped with the barrel rolls. The CoM is a lot lower and the rover is more stable.  Since both rovers were docked, the first one was left with full batteries, and i think the direction damage fixed itself with the change of scene (the RCS tank is again in line with the others), so trying to bring it back to Base Alpha is a possibility.

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Next biome: Highland Craters.  The long shadows near the poles can be a problem for an electric vehicle, but 3000 EC should be more than enough to keep going.

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The sun is still high in the sky when we reach the north pole... but it won't last long.  And the terrain is becoming more irregular, increasing the energy requeriments and decreasing the speed.  It's not a problem yet, but up north it's full of peaks and valleys, not the best place to drive at 40 m/s.

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Home over the horizon! The marker on the map is the first patch of polar lowlands according to the orbital survey, so that's where we are heading.

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The map data appears not to match the terrain, so we picked a deep hole and went down to collect some tasty science... but turned out this is not polar lowlands.  After another try in the same area, the only choice appears to be to keep moving north and aim for the deepest rift.

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This one should do the trick:

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EC is becoming a concern.  The mix of deep dark valleys and high peaks where the batteries can be recharged are making this part of the journey quite slow.  Not to mention the constant danger of driving in the shadows and falling into one of the valleys.  The next rover will include moar lights for this type of terrains. 

Then, in a routine climb for energy Jean checked the biome...  yep... polar "low"lands.  I guess the SCANsat data was fine, but it doesn't make much sense to have the lowlands on top of a mountain.  In the words of the on board computer: Not computable.

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The crew was eager to leave this polar nightmare of mountains, valleys and darkness, and there was still some sunlight available in the mountains, so they managed to reach the border of the polar crater and finished the first part of the mission.
 

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Biomes visited so far:  Midlands, Canyons, Lowlands, Midlands craters, Farside Basin, Highlands, Highlands craters, Poles and Polar Lowlands.

Anomallies discovered:  1 monolith.

Contracts completed: 1.

Rovers lost: 1 (still semi-functional).

 

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Thank you!

DAY 2

This day is quite short.  I changed my selection of mods to get a few more FPS while improving the graphics and utilities, therefore my game will look a bit different.  I needed to do that, since sometimes my FPS were going down to 5-7 / s, making the game unplayable.  While experimenting with the new mods i lost track of mun time and when the new mods were installed and tested, it was past mun midday (and i did replace my last save in the process).

 

The first stop was the Polar Crater, after collecting the science of the new biome, the course was set to the south, to take some temperature readings in an area just south of the crater.  There is a new challenge now, the harmless rocks over the surface became solid and a real danger.  The happy days of passing through them are history:

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The polar crater is a nice area to drive, and the travel to the next point of interest was kind of relaxing.

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Course set for the anomaly to the east of the polar crater.

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Then...

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I blame the pilot for trying  to connect to kerbnet and not pay attention to what was in front...   Yes, it's Elixie's fault lol.

But, the monopropelant consumption rate increased quite a lot because of the rocks, leaving the rover lighter.   I think that is affecting the stability and finally caused the crash.   It's time to go back to the design board and add a few upgrades for the next rover.  But not before using what's left in the batteries, it's almost night.

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Back in Kerbin the new rover is ready.  The landing gear on top should protect components from those nasty barrel rolls.  The antenna was moved from the top of the cockpit to the side, above the central wheel, and the two big solar panels were replaced by four SP-L (1x6). Also, a new set of lights is added around the top docking port for a 360º coverage in the dark mun nights.

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And i want to try a different delivery method, a crane is going to bring the rover to the surface.  I hope the full tanks will help with stability issues  Again, the crane and rover are added as extra cargo in an unrelated launch (a mining ship):

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The landing zone is still in the dark, i will wait until morning for the deorbit.


Biomes visited so far:  Midlands, Canyons, Lowlands, Midlands craters, Farside Basin, Highlands, Highlands craters, Poles, Polar Lowlands and Polar crater.

Anomallies discovered:  1 monolith.

Contracts completed: 2.

Rovers lost: 2.

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DAY 3

 

Landing the rover with the crane was easy, returning the crane to orbit for other landings or to return it to kerbin not so much.  I was able to dock it back with the miner with just 19 monopropelant units left.  The landing zone was a bit off, 7 km away from where the old rover was, fortunately i did not spend more fuel adjusting it.

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After reaching the other rover and transfering the experiments, the kerbonauts were ready to go again.

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First stop: Monolith

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Continuing to the east, Northern Basin, and two surface samples to complete a contract:

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Time to go back to the equator for more science from Northwest Crater, and three close anomalies, an arch, Neil's memorial and another monolith.

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Next stop southwest crater:

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And turning east again, we are on our way to the East Crater while there is still light.  Until this point, where we will wait for dawn again.

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Overall the new rover was a big improvement over the previous model.  

- The extra mass from the full tanks kept it closer to the ground, as the fuel was used, it's stability decreased.  Nothing huge, but this thing works better with full mass.  The crane needs a bit more fuel, just to have a margin for mistakes / extra maneuvers.

- The gear in the roof allowed me to push the speed a bit, reaching 50 m/s in some stages.  Eventually i lost three of the four solar panels, all of them almost at the end of the day, one because of a small rock, the other two in a bad turn to the left.  The last two were totally avoidable just by not recharging while moving.

- The new solar panels have a slower recharge rate, but are well protected if retracted.  I decided to add a few static ones to recover some EC while moving.  It should increase the time between recharge stops and speed up the process.  I didn't test how much EC they generate, but it should be enough to keep going without the retractable panels.

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Biomes visited so far:  Midlands, Canyons, Lowlands, Midlands craters, Farside Basin, Highlands, Highlands craters, Poles, Polar Lowlands, Polar crater, Northern Basin, Northwest crater and Soutwest Crater.

Anomallies discovered:  3 monoliths, 1 arch, Neil memorial.

Contracts completed: 3.

Rovers lost: 2.

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very interesting reports. i enjoyed reading them. i like the way you upgrade the rover after every crash.  i wonder what you end up with in the end.

btw. is that much monoprop really necessary to keep things going?  i never use that stuff to begin with but i must admit i hardly ever use rovers so I'm quite the n00b when it comes to this. :) 

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Thank you! I'm happy you enjoyed it.

To be honest the first version of the rover was not ready for an extended Mun mission, it had many flaws that i'm trying to fix as they arise while keeping most of the design the same.  I plan to continue using the third rover if it can collect enough electricity, but i try to learn from my mistakes and apply the upgrades to the next variant.

And you are right, a rover doesn't really need any fuel or propulsion other than the wheels.  The original idea was to carry some to brake quickly ( i had some ugly crashes encounters with those crater cliffs before ).  I used way too much monopropelant in an early design because i expected the rover to resist the whole journey.  Then the idea of a rover-lander hybrid became too tempting to let it go. :D   

Edited by Ozelui

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DAY 4

It took me a while to finish this stage, in part because i had not much time to play lately, and because i tried (and failed) to create a dedicated spaceplane-lander for the rover:

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Actually, this one can escape kerbin, refuel in LKO, land on Mun, process some ore and go back to orbit, but it uses RAPIERS to escape Kerbin, and i don't own that tech in my career (yet).

So i took a more traditional approach for the 3rd generation rover:

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The small ship behind the rover is a lander with a lot of science stuff, and serves as transfer stage to Mun.  Once in Mun orbit, a quick refuel left the rover and lander ready to deploy.

In adition to the new rover i sent a research ship to process all the tasty science from the circunnavigation:

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Back in the surface, the rover had the batteries still full, and started very early.  With just one solar panel, i was forced to keep it deployed most of the time, or waste a lot of time stopped while recharging.  With the replacement already in orbit, the risk of crippling the rover was acceptable.

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And eventually i lost control after a jump and lost the last solar panel.  With some charge still left, i continued for a little while and collected all the experiments from the East Crater.  Next step, to deliver another rover:

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Bill collected all the science and went back to orbit to meet the research ship.  Elixie and Jean boarded the new rover, and took as many monopropelant from the old one as possible.  The next anomally is nearby, and that's the next stop:

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After a good part of the day going east, we reached the Twin Craters ( and collected moar science! ).

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Not far from the Twins we ran out of sunlight, and it's time to stop again.    If everything goes well the next day we will reach Base Alpha again and finish the challenge!

 

I'm very happy with the performance of the rover, it maintained a steady speed of 30-40 m/s without any energy issue, and reached a top speed of 70 m/s while descending into the Twin craters.  No damage whatsoever to the vehicle, the few times it crashed with a boulder or lost control after a jump i was able to regain control or the wheels prevented any damage.

The new solar panels worked perfectly, recharging while moving without danger of breaking anything.   The dusk was the only time when the extensible panels were used, since those are the only ones able to face the rear of the rover.

 

Biomes visited so far:  Midlands, Canyons, Lowlands, Midlands craters, Farside Basin, Highlands, Highlands craters, Poles, Polar Lowlands, Polar crater, Northern Basin, Northwest crater, Soutwest Crater, East Crater and Twin Craters.

Anomallies discovered:  3 monoliths, 2 archs, Neil memorial.

Contracts completed: 3.

Rovers lost: 3.

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things are going well i see.  your latest ship even  endures bumps at 40 to 70 m/s! that's impressive!

how's the small drill treating you? don't you just hate it when the soil doesn't have enough resources  to extract ore?  i always use the larger one because of that reason and use the small inefficient converter to save on mass. 

thanks for another interesting report. 

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That's why my Enerstars are soo big, the big converter is the only one worth using.  Whenever I tried to slim it down with alternate designs, I basically just came to the same conclusion.  The only change for the most part was a lower suspension for stability.  Sadly my Mun mission had the old model so it was fairly top heavy.   That's the worst part is the gravity is low enough to let you go flying, but high enough that you'll still break stuff unlike minimus.

I used saves to at least maintain progress.  Sending a bunch of 55 ton bases each time an unlucky bounce happened would drive me nuts but it seems you're doing some hardcore kind of thing.

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On 11/6/2017 at 8:26 AM, xendelaar said:

things are going well i see.  your latest ship even  endures bumps at 40 to 70 m/s! that's impressive!

how's the small drill treating you? don't you just hate it when the soil doesn't have enough resources  to extract ore?  i always use the larger one because of that reason and use the small inefficient converter to save on mass. 

thanks for another interesting report. 

Not worrying about breaking solar panels made me start to really enjoy the ride. And the bumps :D

That lander is the only ship where i found the small drill to be of any use. And that's with an engineer, a satellite in orbit and a lot of time lol.   I usually go for a big IRSU and 4 big drills for my heavy miners, that's a lot better when a lot of thirsty ships are waiting for you in orbit.  However, i think one small IRSU and one big drill should work well, maybe for a small lander or rover? I should give that setup a try.

 

On 12/6/2017 at 4:34 AM, Znath said:

That's why my Enerstars are soo big, the big converter is the only one worth using.  Whenever I tried to slim it down with alternate designs, I basically just came to the same conclusion.  The only change for the most part was a lower suspension for stability.  Sadly my Mun mission had the old model so it was fairly top heavy.   That's the worst part is the gravity is low enough to let you go flying, but high enough that you'll still break stuff unlike minimus.

I used saves to at least maintain progress.  Sending a bunch of 55 ton bases each time an unlucky bounce happened would drive me nuts but it seems you're doing some hardcore kind of thing.

Nice circunnavigations with the Enerstars Znath!  TBH i wouldn't dare to try Mun or Minmus with a rover that big.   I sent a mobile lab to Mun some time ago, the plan was to move from biome to biome and collect science too, but it was quite difficult to handle and i had to quick load plenty of times with that one.  Exactly, the gravity is low enough to do huge jumps over terrain, but meeting the ground again can be a bit... rough.

 

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DAY 5

Another day, another stage of the circunnavigation to complete, hopefully this is going to be the last one. 

Things are much less complicated when you have an undamaged rover from the previous day and there's no need to bring anything from Kerbin, just... drive!

 

 

Biomes visited:  Midlands, Canyons, Lowlands, Midlands craters, Farside Basin, Highlands, Highlands craters, Poles, Polar Lowlands, Polar crater, Northern Basin, Northwest crater, Soutwest Crater, East Crater, Twin Craters and East Farside Crater.

Anomallies discovered:  3 monoliths, 2 archs, Neil memorial.

Contracts completed: 3.

Rovers lost: 3.

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In the end i decided to ignore a few locations and not drive all the way there, a lander will do the trick.  Farside crater is relatively close to the base, but i took the north pole route, where i had a lot more biomes to visit.  And the two anomalies near the south pole... well, they are near the south pole :D   Also, there is another location south of the base i should visit to take surface readings for a contract.  All these locations are maked in the map with a yellow circle around them.

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