Jump to content

Elcano IV: Circumnavigate all the things!


Recommended Posts

Met the first rover delivery.  I have no idea why I didn't just put docking ports on these for the LFO transfer, but after a prolonged struggle in EVA (and realising that even if you don't have a docking port, DPAI will let you cuddle up to one on the target vessel), Dancan Kerman has attached a KIS/KAS connector, the rover has undocked, she's got into it, and here she is flying it into the hangar.


I have executed the maneuvers and have a Pol encounter coming up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Landed on Pol at last!


It soon got dark, and with Pol's very slow "speed of dawn" there was no choice but to press on.

Initially it got fairly unpleasant, but Pol is not a big world and I realised if I kept speed down to 15 m/s or so it wouldn't take a prohibitive time to get around and at that speed the roving is easy so far.

To 150 degrees East already. Not sure where Jool is (or how big it appears from here), but I'm keeping an eye out for Joolrise.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wrote elsewhere I've hit a bit of a wrinkle on Pol; sometimes the ground isn't sure where it is. My wheels sink into it until the bottom of the suspension arm hits it (so why's it solid to one bit of the part and not another?), situation flickers between In Space Low and Landed, "cannot save when about to crash", and I get almost no traction and can't go anywhere.


Just going back a bit and landing on Pol again hasn't helped. I've tried going in a few different directions but hit "soft" terrain each time. Not really sure what I can do about this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I restarted Pol, repeating the landing all the way from orbit. So far - I'm about halfway round - the terrain has not misbehaved. I've kept the speed down to around 16 m/s but also resurrected the low gravity jump control kOS script from Gilly; if we're 10m above the ground and moving upwards in terms of both sea level and terrain altitude, we switch on the top engines until those conditions aren't all true. (There's also a check that the top engines are actually pointed approximately up in case of some kind of crazy spin).

There's masses of fuel for this - the engines are small, and the fuel tanks sized to supply the fuel cells on a high-gravity world where the reactor might not be able to keep up - and it helps to keep the wheels on the ground where they belong. I still think the rover design - tested on Kerbin - isn't great on these very low gravity worlds; it's too easy to punt yourself up into the sky and slam down hard on your wheels, and it doesn't have a lot of ground clearance with the suspension bottomed out. As ever, the rover designer wants a low centre of gravity and a wide wheelbase to avoid flipping over but high ground clearance to avoid ground strikes, and combining the two is tricky. If I were doing this again, a phrase I write a lot, I would just mount KF skids on the underbelly.


Getting dark already, having landed somewhat further West. Pol has been tricky - low gravity like Minmus, but not even remotely flat. I spend half my time almost as a passenger in the air, wondering which way to steer during the next brief interlude of traction.

This crack in the ground was just as alarming to rove into as it is on the top-right monitor.

Finally getting smoother.

I was starting to feel that the Highlands biome was at least less bumpy, and here I've switched the top-right monitor to biome mode and am just trying to stick to the Highlands while that is at all compatible with staying near the equator.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pol continued to behave itself. I decided the Highlands weren't appreciably smoother, I'd just hit a smooth patch.


My first glimpse of Kerbol.

20 degrees east and here the Highlands are lumpy.

Clearly now in the daylight.

A first glimpse of Jool.

Jool now clearly in view.

60 and 80 degrees West; easier roving in the daylight.

Shortly after sighting the Hangarmoth. I'd diverted to the North to come around a vast cliff, hence the odd looking BTDT track.

And home! Another world off the list, and only one very low-g world left to do.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Long before I planned to leave Pol, my drills all started reporting "no ground contact". Unfortunate, losing out on 25 days of ISRU, but Pol has seemed a bit odd and there was nothing to be done about it but take off.


Leaving Pol. Farewell!

Arriving at Bop. Don't tell me, it's even lumpier than Pol...

MechJeb brought the rover delivery vehicle next to the Hangarmoth with, well, excessive precision. My heart was in my mouth as it just avoided slamming right into it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This rover delivery was almost dry on LFO (still, every little helps) but I built them with very generous monoprop tanks and now I am at about 75% capacity after EVA specialist Dancan hooked it up and pumped it dry.


Undocking from the QA. As normal, a short conventional burn is used to move us away, and then we wait until the QA has drifted kilometres off so we don't blow it up with Orion.

Down on Bop! One of the landing script's more alarming performances, and I'm starting to suspect it isn't actually better on low-g worlds than just doing it myself with MechJeb's steering aid. Bit late to work that out since this is, er, the last low-g world. Still, I got down and nothing got knocked off.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

No MetallicOre here, but plenty of Ore - given I'm still horribly short of LFO but think I now have plenty of pulse units (there's a bunch in orbit on the QA because why bring the whole massive supply down) to get to Vall, Tylo, Eeloo, and home, good choice of landing spot, me. If the drills don't stop working - if - I should take off with tanks mostly full, not empty.


Just rolling along here, nothing very exciting.

Most of Bop is Peaks (how's that work?) but here I have roved through a massive valley most of the way down to nominal sea level and am coming up the other side. This got pretty worrying - low gravity doesn't accelerate you fast but it also means once you get up to any speed your wheels aren't on the ground to do any braking much of the time. I ended up turning crosswise to the slope until I got the speed under control.

I think a better course would have gone further north here and avoided the further vast chasm to the south.

Crossed the meridian. The top-mounted stick-down engines are burning a fair chunk of LFO, but there's plenty for the trip.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/2/2016 at 12:25 AM, damerell said:

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.

On reflection I think I was onto something here. The Hangarmoth is a solid design and I'm happy with it, but the twin-Orions are not very prototypical, not least because real Orion had to plan for bomb misfires and on a twin Orion design in the event of a bomb misfire you are going to get a whopping great spin, somewhere between inconvenient (you can refire the misfired engine under spin and cancel it out) and catastrophic (the resulting strain rends your craft asunder).

If I were doing this now I'd build a triangular core and three hangar-and-ramp modules, made out of bits from this excessively silly design I tried early.


Each of the modules here is pointy enough to get off Kerbin (I suspect the ambitious kerbonaut could stack the three hangar modules on top of the core and send the lot up with Orion) but reassembled in orbit it's then ideal; it can't tip over on landing with its huge wide base, rovers can just drive in and out of the hangars rather than the way the Hangarmoth has to balance on its gear, the landing legs could be made considerably longer with the stability of the threefold symmetry and then the Orion engine lowered so we aren't asking so many awkward questions about just how much of the underbelly of our ship has to be made of pusher-plate-like material.

IDK if such a design could land on Duna - the Hangarmoth did but this is _even less_ aerodynamic - but I could just take the approach I took with Eve of landing a rover that never returns and bringing an ascent vehicle.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

30 degrees West:


60, and it's getting dark.

90, but I think I might ease off on these every-n-degrees screenshots now BTDT is providing an excellent record of passage on the ScanSat map.

Around here I hit another patch of "soft ground" like on Pol, sinking up to the axles. Bother, I said (well, the actual word was not _quite_ "bother"). However, playing around in my testing sandbox - is it the rover? The area? I discovered if I teleported another rover to about the same spot and drove up to the stricken one, I would find it magically back on the ground on its wheels.

I did that here. I hope that's OK with @18Watt; I don't get supplies or anything from the teleported rover, it just arrives, fixes a KSP bug, and goes home.

Crossing the date line.

This was the first time I saw the target marker on the main display HUD.

Joolrise. The relative positions of Jool, Bop, and Kerbol mean it is not lit up a great deal.

The first glimpse of dawn? Except it's in the West, because we are actually driving under the sunset. I thought this would provide some relief, but it turned out I'd landed on top of a mountain again so most of the final distance was into shadow anyway.

Kerbol up at last.

The spire of the Hangarmoth is just visible on the top-left display (whose camera is mounted as high as possible).

And home on Bop! This was a long one for a small world; it wasn't often possible to go fast.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

The rare docking manuever which went smoothly. Practice makes less terrible, I guess?


And we're en route to Tylo, the last big world on the itinerary. I had a bit of a worry when I wondered where a big chunk of my LFO had gone - but no, the docked package is just considerably heavier so the dV is lower. Obvious in retrospect.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In preparation for Tylo I transferred the large-world team, who have only roved on Eve, to the Hangarmoth. They replaced the low-g world team. This is completely gratuitous, but it's pleasing, especially on finding out that a kerbal who goes EVA from the command pod on the Hangarmoth and lets go naturally ends up on a trajectory that brings them close to the nearest airlock on the Queen Agaster.


My trajectory planning for Tylo was er not ideal; I am going to just skim close to the surface - alarmingly close - and zoom straight back up to apoapsis.

Close enough to Jool now to see alignments of moons.

And, a pleasing surprise, after yet another rewrite of the landing script, it plunked me down on Tylo without accident - in a spot with Ore, Metallic Ore, and Uranite. Still bleeding away atomic pulse units, but there are only two medium-sized worlds left to land on.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tylo is, I am told, very large - but much easier terrain than Eve so far (and I don't seem to be encountering the random pinging up into the sky other circumnavigators in earlier KSPs reported). I can crank the rover around at 40 m/s without difficulty, meaning it'll be... a mere 26 hours of roving, assuming there are no mountains to drive up, which there are. In this gravity I'm using a tiny amount of LFO to supplement the reactor, but it'll last out.

This makes for easy roving at high speeds, but not much interest for screenshots, and I'm pretty glad I have Locked Tomb podcasts to listen to. I am trying to work my way up to 6 degrees North to run through at least one of the craters.


Joolrise. For once, since it's green and Tylo is grey, I didn't think a body rising was an odd-shaped mountain.


Edited by damerell
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jool properly up; I'd enjoy a nice view of it for some time, especially from the upper deck of the cab.


The inner moons await us.

I've lost a section of the rollcage. How? When? This rover has only been here and Bop, and I don't remember any major spills on Bop.

Here the terrain finally started to turn rough. I imagine anyone reading this knows there's more to Elcano than pushing the throttle against the stop and waiting, but Tylo hasn't had very much more - for hours I've had to touch the steering every once in a while. Perhaps as we approach the crater the roving will get tougher.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Into the Grissom crater. Nothing too dramatic - I'd come down a long slope, but the biome just changed with no sharp transition in the landscape.


I think this is the lowest altitude I recorded at the bottom of the crater.

Of course it's hard to tell how far away and large terrain features are in KSP, but I thought this might be the other side of the crater, and huge. I wasn't wrong.

Huge enough that I had to stop halfway up for a brew-up. The big dorsal battery on the Eve rover was a good idea and maybe should have been adopted for the regular rovers. I adjusted the scripts to run the fuel cells a bit more aggressively (the higher the EC level at which they kick in, the bigger the risk of running out of LFO, but that risk seems very small - and it does also reduce the chance of running dry of EC on a big climb like this).

The meridian. I started at 116 degrees East, so nearly 1/3 distance. Tylo remains annoyingly large.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Around here, to my surprise, I ran into a vast expanse of almost Minmus-ish flatness. The rover just could go straight on with no input. I crossed a brief bit of higher terrain - I considered steering around it, but I'd rather see a little action - only to find more very flat terrain.


At 60 degrees West. I hope the craters will spice things up a bit. It's a far cry here from heel-and-toe roving around Moho in the dark.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No screenshot, but somewhere around the Grissom crater I found I was outdriving the dawn, so stopped for about half a Tylo-day to get Kerbol high in the sky again.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Into the Gagarin crater. Also no dramatic crater wall, but the ground is much darker inside it.


It also has long extents of dead-flat ground, unlike what I saw of the Grissom crater.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Spotting what proved to be the rim of Gagarin a long way off.


Out of Gagarin, in the relatively small gap between craters. Not so dramatic a climb out as Grissom.

Into Tycho.

Could this be the far rim? It's lighter coloured, but there's no sense of distance under these conditions. I think it was, but I'm honestly not sure.

Out of Tycho.

Now to head North back to the equator. Past halfway round, and no more craters, just a steady slog back to the Hangarmoth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some jagged hills coming up.


Indeed, in them I had a spin - which I regret I did not capture on a screenshot - and knocked off more of the rollcage.

Mountains ahead.

But mostly from there easy roving, albeit with one or two steep climbs, to cross the 180 degree mark. The Hangarmoth is at 116 degrees East, so I am past 3/4 distance, but what a slog it has been.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

I'm plugging on; this is just where I shut down for the night (IRL). I think I have now had Enough of Tylo. The Hangarmoth is landed about 2 degrees south of the Equator, but I intend to touch the Equator again before making a beeline for it. I'm outroving Kerbol, but I don't yet think I'm outroving it enough to be in dark before I get home.


Edited by damerell
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been through this Mara biome. What, I ask myself, is Mara, other than inconveniently dark? I stopped for a couple of hours - why rove in insufficient light when I'm days from takeoff?


Some less-flat terrain to liven up the roving.

The end is in sight!

And home at last. What a slug Tylo was.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 3/23/2023 at 4:57 PM, damerell said:

What, I ask myself, is Mara, other than inconveniently dark?

That is a really good question.  I think your answer (inconveniently dark..) is as good as it gets.

Congratulations on another Elcano complete!  By the way, I really enjoy your mission logs.  You are documenting an adventure with epic proportions!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tragedy, however; there are not the atomic pulse units to lift the Hangarmoth off Tylo. Even if I wait until the kerbals are almost out of supplies, and dump all excess weight, there is no way they can return to the QA. The Elcano program has four more dead.

Supplies on the QA will keep the 8 survivors alive. A followup mission must be planned.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tragedy averted! It looked bad for the four kerbonauts on Tylo, but two ideas came to mind.

First of all, the "auxiliary" LFO engines are normally only used to smooth out landings and for fine manuever control, but there's no law against using them for a takeoff, and with full tanks they represent about 700 m/s dV, enough to make up the shortfall.

Secondly, the rovers in the hangar can be raided for Supplies - extending the time we can stay on the surface doing ISRU (this doesn't help much because when both engineers' habitation timers are exhausted, the rate of drilling drops dramatically, but it's better than nothing) - and for their LFO, which gets us close to those full tanks; and since there's another rover waiting for us at Eeloo, one of them is another 50-odd tonnes to ditch.

It doesn't matter that the hab timers are exhausted; the remote guidance unit and 8 kerbals on the QA let us control the Hangarmoth remotely without the 200 second lightspeed delay from Kerbin.

I'm not sure I understand USILS hab timers. Everyone's were exhausted on the surface - I'm sure of this because of the ISRU effects - and yet when we get into orbit one of the engineers (the one who remained on the Hangarmoth) is happy again?

Docking up with the QA. Not a lot of LFO dV left, and I'm down to my last 150-odd pulse units, but it was enough to get me home. What a relief! It would have been maddening to lose these kerbals, since there are about 200 more pulse units on the QA - the blithe assumption that I don't need to drag down all that mass just wasn't safe with a world as big as Tylo.

It might just about be possible to do Vall and Eeloo with what's left, but I'm not even considering chancing it. Now everyone's back safely on the QA, the thing to do is send a resupply mission - circa 24k LFO and 22k monoprop would fill my tanks, and 800-odd pulse units will be ample.

(People who use USILS may be saying, hang on, USILS doesn't kill kerbals; but I regard a kerbal who runs out of Supplies (including the 15-day grace timer) as dead.)

17 hours ago, 18Watt said:

By the way, I really enjoy your mission logs.

Thanks, although much of the time I feel I'm just flailing at the keyboard to pass the time. There's a limit to how much one can write about, say, roving up one grey hill and down another. I almost found myself missing slugging over horrible cliffs on Moho in the dark.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...