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steelgrey

Landing on the dark side

Question

I usually land on the light side of the mun or minmus (as far as I have got yet), and attempted a landing on the dark side of the mun for the science.

Well it might sound like a silly question but what advice can people give me as far as actually seeing what I am doing when landing. I have fitted lights, mk1 and mk2 to my lander, but they really don't help and its hard to judge mountains or hills. I tried it a few times and slammed into the ground each time. There is no brightness or gamma settings in the options either.

So any advice would be much appreciated.

Edited by steelgrey

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If you use the IVA view, you can see the radar altimeter, which gives you the actual altitude up to 3000 meters.

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Other mods give real altitude as well. These will let you fly external view and provide radar altitude during landing.

Edited by togfox

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Yes, the radar altimeter is very useful when you don't have a shadow. Seeing if the terrain is flat or sloped is harder...

Try to avoid the dark side if possible, if you are aiming for a specific location or biome you can always stay in orbit until it's on the bright side :)

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If you feel you MUST land in an area at night -

1) It's always good to have lights on the lander, even if you don't think you'll need them. Cause that ONE TIME when you do...

2) What the others have said in regards to the IVA view of the Radar Altimeter: VERY TRUE.

The Radar Altimeter won't "see" the ground until it's 3000 meters underneath you. But that's invaluable. Have a Kerbal inside the cockpit turn his head so that you've got a good view of the RAD ALT, then when you think you're getting close, switch to IVA and check it. If it's a night landing, you can pretty much stay in IVA mode until you're at about 150 Meters up. At that point switch and come back out to the outside view, and your lights on the lander should just be picking up the ground at about that time.

One of my procedures for night landings is to expect to land at a higher altitude than the plot shows. try and come to a near stop and hover right about where you think you're going to start picking up the radar at 3000 meters. Check and then start final descent once you have "acquired" the ground via the RAD ALT. From there it should be relatively simple to land a stock craft with just the RAD ALT and a set of landing lights.

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Now that is useful information. I'll attempt my next landing using IVA. Off topic I know, but I wish the time warp would stop automatically at 1 min from your maneuver point, the amount of times I've overshot when warping is ridiculous.

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You should use Kerbal Alarm Clock. It does exactly that.

Is that a mod? I'm trying to steer clear of mods at the moment and learn it in vanilla before tinkering with it.

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Well, yes, but it doesn't add any parts or cheaty stuff. It allows you to set a "alarm" sort of for maneuver nodes, and will alert you when you approach a node and stop time warp. It will stop you from overshooting and allow you to perform multiple missions more easily.

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For a mod free lander one high intensity light, Illuminator_Mk1, pointing down works wonders. I have at least one on every lander. They work great for docking too when your rendezvous winds up happening on the dark side.

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I try to steer clear of mods too. I had heard of Kerbal Alarm clock, but never downloaded it until I went looking for a transfer window thingamabobber, and the KAC came up. Now I don't know how I ever managed without it. That and the Docking Alignment Indicator are the only plugins I use.

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This is how experienced and expert KSP pilots land on the dark side of a world; they wait in orbit until the world's rotation brings the landing site into daylight. No matter how good you are, landing in the dark is a good way to come down on a slope or bump and wreck your ship. It can be done, but it's just not worth the hassle.

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Also consider - so many ships (especially in early career mode) depend on Solar power to recharge their batteries. You can time warp your way to dawn. But - what if you're using a life support mod and you have a limited amount of time before life support or power (or both) run out. Uh oh! And even ships that have fission chargers for the batteries will often augment with solar panels.

So yeah. Usually worth it just to wait.

But sometimes you just can't choose your moment. Say you're using the limited life support mods? And you have to perform a rescue on a downed ship before their life support runs out? And you get there and it's on the dark side and they'll be dead before the sun comes back around? Well then you don't have a choice. You gotta land in the dark.

Another thing to consider: There's at least one anomaly I can think of (maybe more) where it's ALWAYS dark to go down there to find! And the angle of the sun in the sky will be irrelevant.

And heck - sometimes you might just want to challenge yourself. So hope these tips help out.

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Kerbal alarm clock is fantastic, thank you for suggesting it to me, I'm not really sure why that is not included in the game already to be honest as it ought to be.

Thanks all for your posts, I think I will simply avoid landing in the dark for now, at least until I have got better at flying and landing without making mistakes.

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If all else fails, I find making the room you're in as dark as possible and viewing the monitor at a slight angle makes the ground just a tad easier to spot in the dark.

Be awestruck by my ultra-hightech suggestion :D

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This is how experienced and expert KSP pilots land on the dark side of a world; they wait in orbit until the world's rotation brings the landing site into daylight.

That may take a while ... especially if you're trying to land near poles.

No matter how good you are, landing in the dark is a good way to come down on a slope or bump and wreck your ship.

It wouldn't be that hard if there was just one more indicator on the navball.

Because really... even when landing in daylight, you can't really see the slope below you until you're almost landed.

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That may take a while ... especially if you're trying to land near poles.

It wouldn't be that hard if there was just one more indicator on the navball.

Because really... even when landing in daylight, you can't really see the slope below you until you're almost landed.

Yes some form of ground scanning radar would be useful.

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There's a ground radar on several of the pods :)

IVA only though.

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There's a ground radar on several of the pods :)

IVA only though.

That tells us the distance to the ground, not the slope angle and direction which was matter of my suggestion.

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Ahh yeah I see what you mean, a video feed showing elevation below you would be good :)

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That tells us the distance to the ground, not the slope angle and direction which was matter of my suggestion.

Yes that could easily be achieved by just adding a camera to the parts and have a small viewscreen with a video feed. Are the devs taking on board any ideas at all?

Edited by steelgrey
Bad grammar

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No, I don't mean elevation. I mean slope. We already have enough clues about elevation - ground texture, ground scatter,lights, radar altimeter.

But we have no good way to see the slope below the ship.

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To land on the dark side, you should get an orbit at around 10km and kill all your horizontal velocity. Try to keep your vertical velocity at about 100m/s until the radar altimeter reaches about 2000m, then reduce to 50m/s until you are at 1000m, then reduce to 20m/s until you get to 500m altitude. Then you can reduce your landing velocity to something reasonable.

You do not need lighting when landing with the radar altimeter, but it may help if you eyeball the last part of the landing.

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Okay I made an example of what I mean. Notice the landing looks rather good all the time until I'm actually landed. Now, notice the position of navball on the landed ship. What I mean is it would be really nice if navball was showing us that point in advance, like in the image below. The cross is at the place where the center of my navball will be if I land there. It tells me how much sloped the terrain is and in in which direction, so I can decide if I want to go down slope, up slope, or along the slope.

Javascript is disabled. View full album

4BMRMCc.png

Or for even more extreme example, before this landing:

iAuhqug.png

It would show me this:

x27mMlw.jpg

Edited by Kasuha

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I have landed on the dark side of the Mun a few times, it's not the end of the world but it's certainly more challenging. Remember to pack lights and extra batteries, I usually aim for a big crater and try to keep my speed low by keeping my engines slightly throttled up once I start to get nervous. Usually I bring enough fuel that it doesn't matter, or have a larger ship in orbit to take me home.

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