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Elcano IV: Circumnavigate all the things!


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After driving around Minmus, Mun, and Kerbin, I decided I'd like to do the rest in one mission. I planned to use a modified version of my Mk IV Kerbin rover; this is a bit of an act of faith in the Kerbal Foundries group since presently the tracks don't work, but since no rover wheels work very well at the moment I can start work on the rest of the mission and trust that there will be working wheels or tracks later.

The Mk IV was a solid and capable craft... as it should be, weighing in at, er, 55 tonnes. This poses certain challenges if a Mk IV is to be landed on and lifted off every world in the Kerbol system. An alternative would be to dispatch a number of robot craft with Mk IVs, one to every world, and have the main mission land and take off in a smaller lander, but I rejected that in favour of the idea of using Kerman Dyson's entirely sensible Project Orion.

The mission, then, is to consist of four parts.

  1. A rover: we have a solid and reliable design in the Mk IV that should need only minor modifications to go anywhere.
  2. An unpowered main life support stage with spacious accommodation for a dozen kerbals during the long interplanetary transfer stages. This will (using some combination of TACLS, USI parts, etc) be equipped with hydroponics facilities to extend life support as long as possible without simply loading up with thirty years of food. I haven't yet looked into this in detail, but I understand we should be able to harvest water, oxygen, and soil from at least some of the worlds we visit.
  3. A set of conventionally powered missions to send Scansat satellites to every world in the system - equipped to do altimetry scans and also scan for Karbonite and other resources.
  4. A lander and propulsion stage propelled by Project Orion. This will provide modest accomodation for six kerbals during planetary takeoff and landing - three of them will then set off in the rover, so the other three shouldn't be too cramped during the interval. It'll dock to the life support stage for transfers between worlds. It'll also be equipped with drills and storage tanks for whatever ISRU options turn out to be feasible.

The lander sounded like the hard bit, so I started there. My initial plan was for a spaceplane, to ease takeoff and landing on worlds with atmospheres. This wasn't an obviously terrible idea and after a bit of tweaking ended up with the _Behemoth_:


The nose is a useful shielded docking bay - Mk3 on the outside, Clamp-o-Tron Sr on the inside. That puts a large docking port directly on the centreline of the ship so the Orion drive can push the life support stage. The twin cockpits on either side of that are a high-visibility model from the Mk2 Stockalike Extension, ideal for landing in atmospheric flight because of their excellent downward view. In theory, anyway - one downside that was becoming apparent in tests on Kerbin is that the Behemoth's colossal stall speed means landing it is mostly a matter of finding a flattish bit, cutting the drive, and praying. The all-around landing gear does at least mean it's not too fussy about the shape of the landing or takeoff terrain; the centre of mass is more to the rear than one might think because of the enormous mass of the Orion drive and nuclear propellant magazines, so takeoff rotation is easier than one might think.

One downside to the docking port is that the shielding flaps open to the side, obscuring forward visibility during docking. (Being Mk3, it can't just be rotated ninety degrees). Docking would have to be done from the bridge on top of the main cargo bay.

The next piece on the nose is a Mk3 cargo bay concealing two large aerospike engines. Of course, on airless worlds the Behemoth would have to land by tailsitting, then fall over onto its landing gear. The aerospikes serve on higher-gravity worlds to keep that fall down to an acceptable speed. The Behemoth can take off from low-g airless worlds by using the aerospikes to elevate its nose; on high-g airless worlds it can use a sophisticated technique called "driving off the top of a hill really quickly". Simulation work has shown this is viable even on Tylo.

The engine pods at the rear mount four dual-mode BROADSWORD engines for fine orbital adjustments or a little extra shove during takeoff. Their gimbals also are better at fine control than the Orion drive (where necessarily the direction of the impetus is fixed for each nuclear detonation). The craft has huge monopropellant reserves fore and aft (and it guzzles the stuff like it's going out of fashion) which also allow for fine mass adjustments, and plenty of LF/LFO storage.

The main cargo bay is a Lack Luster Labs part; it drops its entire base with four hydraulic pistons. A rover could then pick its way around the landing gear and park on the base, being secured with KAS pipes and struts. The vessel would also carry a small rover with ISRU drills.

One thing I've not done before was to mount a very large (tweakscaled up) service bay behind the main cargo bay with a one-to-many thrust plate inside it. All sorts of auxiliary equipment in small diameters can then be mounted on it; the Behemoth prototype has Karbonite distillers to make LFO and monoprop, a Karbelectric generator, life support supplies, Universal Storage hydrogen/oxygen fuel cells and extra supplies for them. Tanks for whatever ISRU is feasible would also be provided in this area.

So, what's wrong with it? It steers like a cow, but that doesn't matter too much; a spaceplane that goes from the equator to an equatorial orbit and back doesn't really need to go around corners. Landing and takeoff are a bit alarming, but eminently survivable.

What's wrong with it is re-entry. The colossal mass means it slows down very slowly on re-entry giving plenty of time for parts to overheat (but the square-cube law means it does not have a proportionately huge skin to overheat). On Kerbin this can be worked around by stopping dead at the edge of atmo, belly-flopping to nose down, and pulling out of the resulting nose-dive (DRE is keeping me honest in terms of Gs sustained). On Eve, however, not a chance; you can't arrange to stop dead lower in the atmosphere because the thing is then going backwards and even if you deal with all the control surfaces working the wrong way around it's not aerodynamically stable going tail-forwards, and if you stop it at the edge of atmo with enough leeway to get nose-first, you're already going too fast by the time there's enough air to start pulling up.

Furthermore, FAR rightly punishes you for these kinds of shenanigans. It does fly but only with MechJeb twiddling the controls like mad at low speeds. Back to the drawing board I went...

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My next thought was that the atmospheric tail was rather wagging the dog here. Nearly all the Kerbol system worlds are airless or effectively so; given that the Behemoth couldn't land on Eve without further work, and might never have to hand on Kerbin, perhaps it would be better to go with a lander that operated entirely as a tail-sitter?

The difficulty with that is that the cargo bay really wants to be oriented horizontally and also, of course, next to the ground, short of a colossal external ramp of a sort that does not exist in the mod repository. That then makes the craft hideously lopsided, unless of course we mount two cargo bays on opposite sides.

This is all very well, but the lander does still have to take off from and land on some atmospheric worlds. The inverted-T shape the design process has now produced is utterly hopeless - not just because it is draggy, something Orion can force upwards, but because at any speed the protruding shape of the nose combines with the rearward centre of mass to spin it entirely out of control.

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  • 2 weeks later...

This was a pity because otherwise the tailsitter design was ideal - easy access to the rovers (and indeed being able to bring two rovers is a plus) and no complex maneuvers on landing or takeoff. The answer is inflatable airship envelopes from Hooligan Labs. As a bonus, we won't horrifically irradiate the KSC or our landing spot on atmosphere worlds.


Here we can see the Valentina Kermana (named after the one kerbal who has died in the circumnavigation programme to date) landed with one envelope inflated to full size. The rover bays are enormous - indeed, they may be too large (if so, the Lack Luster Labs cargo bay parts come in shorter lengths). Twin Space-Y engine clusters provide a more controllable drive for fine maneuvering or landing on very low-g worlds. Space-Y also provides the "Super Dibamus" orbital manuevering system and Lithobrake landing legs. Cockpits are provided at the ends of the cargo bays for good vertical visibility during takeoff and landing (a very long extensible ladder lets kerbals descend from these to the cargo bay ramps) and also on the nose for control during docking manuevers. The service bay in the central stack has a thrust plate with auxiliary systems as on the Behemoth. The remainder of the central stack provides large LFO and Monopropellant reserves for manuevering. The Orion engine is supplied with two magazines - NPU-500s for high thrust, and 250s for finer control.

On-planet the three crew that aren't roving will live in a smaller rover with comfortable inflatable habitat facilities parked some distance from the Valentina where the ground isn't glowing at night. A kOS core can control Valentina's onboard systems without any need for a kerbal aboard.

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  • 5 years later...

It may have been a little while, but I still want to circumnavigate all the things, and I've reached the point where I've designed all the vehicles I think I need to launch from Kerbin - indeed, the ScanSat satellites are already in transit.

I don't want to use the absurd design above; it only works at all because the normal inflatable balloon in the Hooligan airships mod produces unrealistic lift. There's one version of it in the current plan, but it's the realistic lift version - it can lift a bit of rocket off Eve at the cost of making a horribly unwieldy object to get onto Eve, not two kilotonnes off Kerbin.

This time around I've the following mods to make life hard: USI Life Support (you can ship out Supplies to Kerbals, but you can't stop them missing home if you stow them in tiny lander cans), RemoteTech, FAR, and my own Campaign for Real ElectricCharge which means there's no driving a 50 tonne EV around a planet by sticking three solar panels on top.

Conversely, to make life easy I still have Project Orion in the form of SuicidalInsanity's mod. The Orion spaceplane design returned in the shape of the _Behemoth III_:


This was no more practical than the Behemoth, but the pieces were coming together; the LLL drop cargo bay from the Behemoth, the twin Orions, the idea briefly considered of undocking the engine modules and RCSing them around to dock to a ship much more suited to landing on worlds without atmosphere.

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Three ideas simplied this.

One was to abandon the spaceplane rover lander idea altogether. There's only two other worlds with significant atmospheres, and Laythe doesn't even want a normal rover landed on it (you can circumnavigate it entirely on water, but not on land). Special arrangements can be made to land a rover on Eve and a boat on Laythe (which just get abandoned) and to return from them.

Now, the rover lander still wants an end-on configuration to take off from Kerbin, but we also now have no reason not to take off vertically from the launch pad. It still wants to transform into a belly landing configuration, but that's much easier to do if we don't have wings on the side of the ship just where we'd probably want the Orion units to attach.

The second was DockRotate (which predated the stock docking port rotation, and works a lot better). Instead of guzzling RCS fuel to reconfigure for belly landing, the drive units can easil y be rotated into position.

The third was to have a bit of fun-with-Blender to use the (otherwise ideal) LLL drop-ramp cargo bay as a Hangar; instead of the rover adding a huge number of parts and having to be secured to the lander manually, it just becomes a lump of mass as soon as the cargo bay closes on it. Also, the bay TweakScales in awkward increments and was rather too large - but as a Hangar, we can make a virtue out of that and bring a complete spare rover (and a couple of very basic seats-and-engine vacuum taxis for rescuing kerbals from unwise EVAs).

This gave me the _Hangarmoth_:


I'm going to go easy on launchpad shots of ships which are just boosters, engine, tank, fairing; but the Hangarmoth is a bit more interesting. The huge boosters handle the initial launch so we don't have to rebuild the radioactive ruin the Orion units would leave behind (and as a bonus this saves a few atomic pulse units). The Orion units take over about 10km up and provide almost all the rest of our propulsion; there's an auxiliary LFO engine outboard of each Orion unit for finetuning of maneuvers (and also the case where we're approaching something we want to dock with too quickly and want both to slow down and not to blow it up).

The fins provide a bit of control on the ascent but are discarded when we get to vacuum. Besides the cockpit and KIS/KAS storage, the forward portion includes an MKS Tundra centrifuge to produce enriched uranium and an MKS workshop to produce metal from metallic ore. (The Orion spinal parts can produce additional pulse units from these, and there's one inside the ship). We've drills for both of these and Ore, and a Convert-o-Tron. I don't know how well this is going to work out in practice, but it's my hope the ship can resupply itself with pulse units, LFO, and monoprop; it is after all going to spend plenty of time sitting around on planetary surfaces.

The main body of the ship has the Hangar in the centre, two large cargo bays (mostly containing pulse unit storage but also a nuclear reactor), and two very large landing legs.

Here it is having gone to space today:


And here it is DockRotated into the belly landing configuration:


Its first objective is to rendezvous with the _Queen Agaster VI_, the life support module for the mission. She was lifted into orbit by a normal boosters-etc approach, and is seen here about to circularise and deploy her centrifuges:


And here she is with everything deployed and ready for the rendezvous:


The Stockalike Station Parts centrifuges provide enough habitation time for the mission. Three MKS Tundra recyclers at the rear will make our Supplies go further (the fourth Tundra module is a medbay which I don't expect to need but it makes things look tidy), but most of the life support supply is two large Kontainers of Fertiliser which agronomics modules will use to convert Mulch back into Supplies. We should have enough endurance for the entire mission, but if we don't, we can always send a conventional mission with resupply to one of the later worlds.

There are a total of 12 kerbals on the mission; three pilots, three scientists, and six engineers. The expected typical landing is pilot/scientist/engineer/engineer; one engineer will stay to run the drills on the Hangarmoth while the other three drive around something. This leaves eight in orbit on the Queen Agaster; RemoteTech wants six to provide local control of probes (ie, without the time lag to KSC).

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It strikes me at some point we should have a picture of the rover. The Mk IV that circumnavigated Kerbin was not really built with any regard for its dimensions at all - after all, it didn't have to fit in anything else. It also predates CAMREC - ie, it was a 55 tonne electric vehicle you _could_ power by slapping on a few solar panels. The solars on top of the Mk VI are just there to keep life support going if there's otherwise a total electrical failure.

I briefly experimented with a half-track Mk V - keeping the Karibou cab and one set of mole tracks from the Mk IV - but then thought, well, why not go the whole hog and dispense with the huge tracks altogether? So, the Mk VI is a six-wheeler:


USI Life Support also complicates matters by making 3 kerbals not want to sit in one cab for days, so there's a second crew part just behind it. A side airlock and ladder provides a second exit point - there's spare ladders in the KIS/KAS spares locker under the vehicle, but if you only have one ladder and you knock it off, it's still really inconvenient. Most of the rest of the rover is devoted to electricity; a nuclear reactor (which can't manage the peak power output but can run forever), large batteries so the reactor can top them up when the rover isn't being driven hard, two large fuel cells to supplement the reactor when battery levels are low, and a very large lump of LFO storage for them. There's also two small engines to assist on very low-gravity worlds, and RCS to be able to orient the rover on large jumps.

This seems a good time to write about kOS support for the mission. There's a kOS script that runs those fuel cells and brakes on overspeed, but also detects a high spin rate or being at too high an altitude and tries to level us out with RCS before we hit the ground again. The Hangarmoth has three scripts; one to balance weight (simplified by the assumption we can probably do everything we want by moving heavy atomic pulse units around, and improved over most fuel balancers by the realisation I only really care where the centre of mass is in the plane perpendicular to the thrust axis), one to assist maneuvers (by dialling down the pulse size to make the last pulse "just right" then activating the auxiliary engines), and a script to land it on airless worlds.

Here's the Hangarmoth + Queen Agaster assembled and setting off for Moho:


Just after taking this I realised a) the Duna scanner was probably going to arrive on Duna after I did and b) the Eve rover descent and Eve ascent vehicles... hadn't been launched yet. Thankfully, there was enough time to set them up with some slightly dV-expensive transfers and with any luck that'll all be fine.

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More comedy; clearly whoever planned the transfer for the Moho scanner probe was more sensitive about dV usage, because it's arriving 15 days after the kerballed mission. Ooops. Fortunately, I put a set of SCANsat parts on the Queen; she's parked in an equatorial orbit which will scan the area I actually propose to drive around.

Here I am landed on Moho:


I had tested the ship lander script in development, but it's still a relief to be down and dry. The Hangarmoth guzzles LFO, MP, and pulse units alike - I'll see to what degree ISRU can help with that. (Bear in mind CAMREC very severely nerfs Ore conversions to prevent over-unity operation, and it just takes a lot of drilling to make pulse units).

Here I am about to set off:

And (after a few false starts) here I am in daylight, 27 degrees east of where I started. Moho's long day means the sun didn't so much rise as that I drove under it.
There's no avoiding driving in the dark on Moho - the life support and habitation timers won't let us camp out for weeks at night - but keeping it down to 20 m/s or less let me pick my way through without incident. Now the sun's come up I can put my foot down a bit.

I've also made two improvements; now the Queen has passed overhead and scanned the terrain, a zoomed-in altimetry map lets me get an idea of where there are craters not to drive into, and since the rover has no enabled reaction wheels (I'm not sure it has any at all) I can leave MechJeb Stability Control on and it does nothing until I press the RCS button. This is a much better idea than trying to detect spins with kOS - the button's literally under my right forefinger so as soon as I think there's any danger I can have MechJeb level me out.

What I mean by "false starts" is, the way I do these Elcano missions is no quickloading during the actual drive. I can quicksave and quickload getting to the start, but if I damage the rover I can either press on or start again from the beginning. I took a couple of goes to get the hang of driving the rover in the dark, and that's allowed, but I can only load the save at 147 degrees East once. (Obviously, this doesn't apply if KSP crashes, etc; but driving errors are permanent.)

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Moho hasn't really had much in the way of wow scenery moments, so here's just a shot of the rover as I shut down for the night IRL. I am covering about 20 degrees of longitude an hour, which... well, I knew it would be a long trip when I set out.


I've also - oh, no, not another learning experience - found that letting the rover run away downhill is dangerous; kOS brakes it at 43 m/s (otherwise the wheels will fail) but it's very easy for it to skid then, Moho's light gravity produces a huge spin, and when it gets side-on it can roll. I knocked off one of the solar panels, but they are outside the roll cage. I hope this is just teething problems, rather than indicative of the rate at which I can expect to make driving errors.

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Moho's not completely devoid of scenery, but also, using altimetry scan data to avoid huge holes in the landscape doesn't work so well when the landscape is entirely made of huge holes.


Another driving error knocked the front of the rollcage off (still, it died doing what it loved); too fast down a steep slope. Here I am at shutdown - another 18 degrees of longitude gone. Slow progress in difficult terrain.


I think it's pretty clear the idea - even with KIS/KAS spares - of taking two rovers around all the planets was hopelessly optimistic. I'm not 1/4 of the way around Moho and two bits have been knocked off already, one of which I don't have a spare for. I must design a Mk VII (less prone to rolling, I say, as if I didn't say that every time I design a rover) and ship out spares.

Edited by damerell
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  • 2 weeks later...

I discovered recently the challenge rules have changed and my old scheme of using RCS for attitude control was forbidden. I decided to make a virtue of necessity and start afresh, redesigning the ships and rover a bit to reflect what I've already learned (one of which was "just send out a bunch of rovers to meet you en route"...)


Nothing much changed with the Queen Agaster here except the inclusion of six Orion magazines - which made her much, much heavier but gives me a sensible reserve of delta-V once it's up.

Bigger Ore and Metallic Ore drills (they're still not big enough) and huge internal storage tanks for them. The sticking point, however, is that some idiot (me) really nerfed the Convert-O-Tron to prevent over-unity operation (you can't dig up Ore, convert it to LF/O, burn that in a fuel cell, and get out more EC than you put in) and we're going to recover only tiny amounts of LF/O while landed.

Undocked before landing on Moho. To add to this problem, a truly terrible docking maneuver (don't try and dock after a few kerbeers) means that we're almost dry on LF/O. I may have to send a resupply mission to Duna.

Landed. In the dark, of course, and on Moho there's no waiting for dawn.

And ready to go. The Hangarmoth is behind us with drills going to make what it can while landed (and, given the supply situation, I'll probably stay down until the next launch window or until habitation issues force a takeoff).

But still, driving again, and even if the ambitious plan to circumnavigate all the things in one go fails, I might actually circumnavigate Moho. I've made some rover improvements too, but that'll have to wait for dawn.


Edited by damerell
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Another few false starts - however, one of them was caused by finding out I'd taken two engineers on the rover and left a scientist on the Hangarmoth. Having returned for a crew exchange, the ISRU situation is - still bad, but not as bad as it was. However, I think before I do any more roving I must plan a resupply mission to Duna with some additional drills to attach to the Hangarmoth.

My other problem has been distinguishing smooth terrain from rough in the dark. Here I am experimenting with Scansat's slope mapping; however, there's no way I found to get it to show me much about intermediate states, just these blobs of red and green.

The next idea was to plot altitude as discrete colours, not a gradient. Much better! The contour lines thus formed give an immediate idea of the slope. Here, for example, I'm about to turn to the north - I want no part of that cliff up ahead.

And here I am having travelled a full 20 degrees longitude. Slow progress, but I think I'm getting a grip on how to go faster - and when the sun comes up (or rather, on Moho, when I drive under it) things should really ease off.

Edited to put the descriptions over the pictures like the rest of the thread.


Edited by damerell
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Faster progress now. I think I am finally getting used to things, but also here at fifty degrees west the terrain has eased up considerably. Between these factors, I am roving at more like 15 m/s than 10.


Here, however, I have a bit of a Captain Obvious revelation: if at all possible turn the terrain shader quality up as high as you can. To be fair, the surface of Moho itself may have changed, but all of a sudden there are fewer great patches of undifferentiated dark.

Here's my first sight of Kerbol, a welcome development.

Here I was about due to shut down for the night - and all of a sudden Moho is revealed, it's not just all picking my way over horrible ridges in the dark.


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I planted a flag at 20 degrees West but honestly it's a faff getting a kerbal out the airlock and since every screenshot has latitude and longitude marked it's not clear it really does more in terms of verifying the journey.


Absolutely horrible terrain here, some of the worst of the trip so far. I haven't slowed down for the screenshot, I am just doing 3-4 m/s.

At 10 degrees West. A shot of the rover here; compared to the Mk VI it has much less RCS fuel (since it can now only be used for orbital rover transfers), a reaction wheel (arguably not a large enough one), and most importantly the anti-roll arm. DockRotate stows it fore-aft so the rover fits in the hangar, but when roving it's out to the side like this. Structural shims extend the wheels out sideways as far as is compatible with fitting two Mk VIIs in the Hangarmoth.

It seems to work pretty well - at least once I remembered to turn off the brakes on the landing gear so it doesn't try and induce a spin when it touches the ground. Also, on the occasion I have landed upside down anyway, waggling it back and forth tends to give the rover a bit of a bump so eventually it turns back over - slightly artificial, but the KAS ground pylons I packed now tell me to use the stock facility to pick them back up which is unfortunate since I'm in 1.9 and there isn't any such facility - the original idea was to use them with the winches mounted on the rover to re-right. [1]

I screenshot this because on the righthand monitor I appear to have driven through a porkchop plot.

At zero degrees, and as you'll see from the path traced on the righthand monitor I have bounced off this ridge several times - just not enough shove to climb it. I did make it over eventually, and I hit 1/4 distance here.

And here I am at ten degrees east.

Twenty degrees east. These aren't very interesting but they show I've been here.

Last but not least I realised the resupply mission should be sent to Eve, not Duna - luckily, before sending it to Duna.

[1] This means the CKAN metadata is wrong and really I ought to track that down, report it, get the right KAS installed - but I think I'm done fiddling with mods at least until I finish Moho.

Edited by damerell
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Largely just documentation this post - the terrain has eased up (even the bits nominally in the Highlands biome) and increasingly I'm able to run the rover at its full design speed; the large wheels provide torque up to 33 m/s (I can adjust the gearing, but it's horribly fiddly and given it'll go up any slope up to about 40 degrees I don't feel much need) and will break if they sustain over 43 m/s (kOS automatically puts the brakes on as needed).

Thirty degrees east:


Forty degrees east:

Fifty degrees east:

Sixty degrees east:

Seventy degrees east:

Eighty degrees east:

Ninety degrees east - and for the first time around here I saw the rover's shadow on the ground in front of me, admittedly on a sharp slope but I think we are now driving into the sunset.

A weirdly dark and grey bit with the headlights back on, but the hills ahead are a more normal colour, catching the sun.

And shutdown at 105 degrees East. More than halfway, but of course this leg was far, far faster than the one I'll have to drive into the dark to return to the Hangarmoth.

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I'm around Moho! The writeup will have to wait - the site that hosts the images is down tomorrow - but I got back to the Hangarmoth. I was very fast most of the way, even given the dark - wondering if that was the terrain, being better at driving the rover, or blind luck - but around 4 degrees out the terrain suddenly became awful just as it was when I started out, and I'm pretty sure I just happened to put the Hangarmoth down in a particularly rough spot.

That said, I did have a lot of alarming jumps in the night and a few complete rollovers, but MechJeb Rover Stability Control and the rollcage on top seem to have done their jobs; the rover is undamaged.

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110 degrees East, and no denying I see the rover's shadow now.


A particularly fine jump, I really enjoy it when you see your shadow below you:

130 degrees East:

A less exciting jump:

150 degrees East:

Now it's kind of undeniably dark but I'd hammer on at high speed for a while:

170 degrees East:

The meridian, and 3/4 distance:

170 and 160 degrees West:

Terrain got pretty ugly around here:

140 and 130 degrees West:

Easy terrain again in the Midlands:

And the Minor Craters (however, I hit a giant cliff somewhere around here which was hell to get over and I'm sorry I don't seem to have captured it):

Close now. I was up too late but resolved to plug on, which was a bad decision because about halfway from this screenshot to the Hangarmoth the terrain turned horrible and those last few kilometers were very slow.

But here we are, home free! The Hangarmoth has made lots of Enriched Uranium (good) and miniscule amounts of LFO and Atomic Pulse Units (oh well).

Next is to consider launch windows and habitation timers and see how much longer we can sit on the ground slightly improving the resource situation.

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Most of this evening was spent on executing maneuvers - often long LV-N burns - on scanner and rover delivery probes.

Also, I've discovered I was an idiot to put two Ore tanks at one end of the main hull of the Hangarmoth, two MetallicOre tanks at the other end, and a Uranite tank still further forward. If the big tanks were diagonally opposite, it would be much easier to balance about the thrust axis. Oh, well.

I considered how long I could sit landed before taking off:


Here I am about to dock while almost completely dry on MP and LFO. Fortunately, the Queen Agaster has at least some supply of MP.

Because I started on this project a while ago, it involves a certain amount of thinking, what the kerb, past me, who designed this craft? Usually if I think about it I see what was going on (here the main payload is a giant Hangar with more dV hidden in it), but there's still a lot of second-guessing myself.

Here at least is a scanner probe with plenty of dV. Past me wasn't entirely stupid.

And here is the Hangarmoth finally approaching Eve. Given the supply situation, I think I can wait for the supply mission to come to me. My plan of draining LFO from the rover delivery and Eve ascent probes is foiled by them being basically dry.

Edited by damerell
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Bit of a struggle, but here's the resupply mission docked to the Hangarmoth. The LFO and monoprop tanks will be staying with me to give us a bit more capacity, the two drill modules are to redock to the Hangarmoth, but the large stack of Orion magazines will be emptied out and left behind.


I completely failed to get a good screenshot of this rover lander that Podpont, Jeanette, and Sally are transferring to, but it's an inflatable heatshield, a box hangar which pops open to reveal a rover, an inline ballute, and a smaller chute for use closer to the ground. The box opens about 1000m up and the rover has a chute on top which means that the rover lands wheels-down not nose-down.


Here it is getting some good fiery death on the way down - landing slightly further east than I'd planned but, crucially, not in the sea.

And hooray, I've landed a rover on Eve!

However, I don't get to drive it just yet; the next order of business is to land the Hangarmoth on Gilly so it can sit there and drill away for as long as possible. (Do I know if Gilly has Ore to drill? Er, no...)

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Landing the Hangarmoth on Gilly was simplicity itself since the auxiliary engines could handle the final touchdown after a couple of Orion pulses. Gilly (or at any rate the spot where I've landed) has Ore, but no Uranite or MetallicOre - but it's Ore products I am tremendously short of. I'll need to check everyone's Supply timers, but I think I might take off from Gilly with LFO and MP tanks mostly full, not almost dry.


I darn well wanted to do some roving tonight, so off we go:

But I stopped after a little to plant a flag at the start, not least to give myself something to aim for when landing the Eve ascent vehicle.

Once the sun's all the way up I'll try for a proper screenshot of the new rover.

It seems Eve will pose many challenges. It's obviously very large - on the face of it I expect this drive to take 3x as long as Moho - but also the range of slopes I can climb or descend safely is greatly reduced in its enormous gravity.

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Ten degrees north:


The rover. Compared to the regular Mk VII, it lacks the anti-roll beam (I asked the designer why but he couldn't remember the reason, awkward since the designer is me) but has a very large battery mounted above the rollcage; this mostly provides enough electricity reserve to get up hills without the fuel cells coming into play.

Twenty degrees (I'm planting flags every 20 degrees, since that's a good chunk of driving where on other worlds it might feel like every ten minutes):

Thirty degrees:

A lake: What's interesting about this is my very thumb in the air estimate of what longitude I could rove at without hitting water was wrong, but also that I'm in the Shallows biome while on land. I'm not too worried about crossing small bodies of water; I can use Sink Them All to pump ballast into the rover to stick its wheels to the bottom.

And forty degrees. One of these days I will remember to plant the flag first then screenshot with the cab view pointing at it. Today is not that day.

Encouragingly, while the fuel cells are sometimes coming into action, if consumption stays as it is I'll only have burned about 40% of the LFO by the time I get back.

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The track on the righthand MFD is interesting here. AFAIK I went to the loo, left the rover with the brakes on but unpaused so the reactor could make me some more electricity, it skidded around 90 degrees (the brakes can't quite hold it on a slope under Eve gravity) and since on Moho I was used to driving into a green HUD line I didn't notice.


A flag at sixty degrees!

The Poles biome is pretty large - I noticed I'd hit it at sixty-three degrees.

Getting dark, but the terrain is super easy and at this point in Eve's year the very North Pole is dark all day anyway.


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I remembered to screenshot the flag. (Actually I then drove over this one and had to plant another. Ooops.)


Getting to the point where I'd be in perpetual darkness at the right point in Eve's year. Do I know what point in Eve's year I'm at? Not beyond "North Pole dark, South Pole light" and Eve's inclination/tilt means it doesn't make a lot of difference.

I stopped here because it was time to sleep, but I'm hoping if Kerbol was setting on this side of the North Pole it should be rising on the drive south. Almost 1/4 distance - Eve is, shockingly, still very large. It's been a stroke of luck than other than a bit near the start, it's nearly all been suitable terrain for going as fast as I can (albeit uphill on Eve that's not always very fast...)


ETA: this green glow in the sky near the poles is very pretty but it'd be nice if it illuminated the ground.

The MFD map is increasingly weird because the projection just stretches it horizontally. I haven't actually been weaving drastically off course.

Edited by damerell
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As most players know, when you get close to KSP's poles the topography gets increasingly messed up. I was utterly delighted to find that Eve's North Pole is... a pole! It looks pretty small but even 10 minutes of latitude on Eve is 2km so it is, in fact, enormous.


Obviously I had to put up this very important flag:

Alas however all is not joy: I stopped 2km away because I am on the edge of a tremendous drop into certain death (if the slope is so steep I gain speed with the brakes on, I can't drive down it; my main false start on Eve was discovering this) - I'm not sure where I go from here and I fear the answer may be "back the way I came and make a semicircle around the pole".

Also, I'm not sure if I've broken my no-quickload rule; fortunately it's not a challenge rule so this is only a question for my own sense of integrity. I say "not sure" because it permits me to reload in case of a KSP bug; now I reloaded after crashing approaching the pole - more than once - but does KSP's polar terrain count as a bug in that sense?

Other people circumnavigate faster because they don't spend so much time on analysis paralysis, I guess. :-)

Last but not least, if the flag makes no sense, Winnie-the-Pooh both goes on an expotition to find the North Pole - this discovers an actual pole stuck in the ground which they assume is the North Pole - and knows a morose donkey, Eeyore, who at one point is flung into a river in a tiger-related incident.


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6 hours ago, damerell said:

Also, I'm not sure if I've broken my no-quickload rule; fortunately it's not a challenge rule so this is only a question for my own sense of integrity. I say "not sure" because it permits me to reload in case of a KSP bug; now I reloaded after crashing approaching the pole - more than once - but does KSP's polar terrain count as a bug in that sense?

Other people circumnavigate faster because they don't spend so much time on analysis paralysis, I guess. :-)

Even the most experienced players are scared to death to play without the quickload possibility... none of them will say that it's just a detail. That's the craziest sub-goal for this challenge: way harder than doing everything with one rover imo. You have my respect for that, knowing that I almost lost my mind when approaching this pole by land. :D

7 hours ago, damerell said:

I'm not sure where I go from here and I fear the answer may be "back the way I came and make a semicircle around the pole".

This is the solution that also came to my mind a few days ago... and I admit that it's not pleasant, but it may be the only way to get through this hell. I hope you will find a way!

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1 hour ago, Pouicpouic said:

Even the most experienced players are scared to death to play without the quickload possibility... none of them will say that it's just a detail. That's the craziest sub-goal for this challenge: way harder than doing everything with one rover imo. You have my respect for that, knowing that I almost lost my mind when approaching this pole by land. :D

Well, don't give me too much respect until we find out what I do if I flip it on some stupid rock halfway around. ;-)

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