Tutorial:Science - Kerbal Space Program Wiki (2024)

Obtaining Science is necessary in Career or Science mode to unlock higher technology spacecraft parts from. These upgraded parts will help your Kerbals become an interplanetary speciesquickly and easily.

This tutorial will show you how to get Science, and with this knowledge you'll plan missions better and buildyour craft to maximize the results of picking up stuff and looking at things in strange new places.

The current technology tree takes over 16000 Science Points to unlock completely, so it is fairly important toefficiently gather as much as possible of the Science that is available.


  • 1 For Beginners: what is Science, anyway?
    • 1.1 The Importance of Scientists
  • 2 Terminology
  • 3 "Mining" Science
  • 4 Getting Results Back Home
    • 4.1 Transmission and Recovery Values
    • 4.2 Recovering the results while leaving the equipment: Taking and Storing Data
    • 4.3 Why transmit?
  • 5 Mobile Processing Lab MPL-LG-2

For Beginners: what is Science, anyway?

Science is making observations in new places with your crew and/or scientific instruments, then getting that data home.Too abstract? Then let's try a short tutorial: design the simplest ship possible, a plain Mk1 Command Podand nothing else. Hit "Launch". Of course, that pod won't go anywhere, but it doesn't need to. On the launchpad,right-click the pod, select "Crew Report", and you're doing science! You cannot transmit the results, because yoursimple craft has no antenna. In order to get the data home, you need to recover your vessel.

Important Science Fact: whatever you do in the field, you won't get any Science Points until you return the results,either by radio transmission or by recovering the vessel (or Kerbal) where the results are kept.

A Crew Report is just one Science Activity; your crew may also leave the pod and create anEVA Report or perhaps collect Soil Samples. There are alsodedicated science instruments such as thermometers or the Mystery Goo™ Containment Unit.

If you paid attention during the brief tutorial above, you noticed that you got a "Crew Report from the LaunchPad."The Launch Pad is considered a "Biome." That is, a special location where you can collect Science.Just getting your capsule off the pad (generally by launching it) will move it into a new biome where you canget a new report for fresh Science Points. Actually, Kerbal Space Center alone is made up of 33 different biomes;the rest of the planet is not as finely detailed, but Mountains, Deserts, Icecaps and so on are easy to make outfrom above. Badlands also exist, but are much harder to find (since they are mostly on the other side of theplanet).

At the Space Center, many of the buildings have a small biome around them, such as the Administration Facility.Many individual structures also count as special "biomes" in themselves, such as the VAB Main Building - and thesebiomes can only be accessed by touching the building with your craft. (That is, running into a building at verylow speed and setting the brakes. Too high a speed will damage your craft or the building.)

So, getting Science all comes down to traveling around in a craft that has a lot of scientific instruments on it,visiting as many biomes as possible, and gathering all possible forms of data at each of them.

On Mun and Minmus every large crater (or depression, respectively) is a biome of its own, plus a few morein-between. The latter are nowhere near as obvious as desert and grassland are on Kerbin, but there are slightdifferences in the look of the surface. For more detailed maps, refer to the Biomes article. The same isbasically true for all the other celestial objects.

The Importance of Scientists

Several types of instruments (ie. Goo and Science Jr.) can only collect data once - unless a Scientist resetsthem during an EVA. If you are taking a long journey (to another planet maybe?), and wish to collect many samples, thenyour basic choice is to either bring a Scientist along to reset the units, or to have a tremendous number of devices.(It is also possible to use a Mobile Processing Lab MPL-LG-2, described below.)This applies to short journeys, too. Landing is dangerous, and you will want to minimize the number of timesyou need to do it - by collecting as much Science as possible, with as small a craft as is convenient, each time.

Also, Scientists have the ability to activate a device (to collect new data) during an EVA. This can be usefulin cutting down the number of EVAs needed to download data from the instruments - and can be especially usefulto easily get a "landed" status in a water biome (see below).


A "Science Activity" means using either a crew member or a scientific device to gather new data. There are 4crew activities: Crew Report, EVA Report, Surface Sample, and Asteroid Sample. There arecurrently 7 scientific instruments.

A "situation" or "status" is the current condition of the craft or Kerbal: landed, splashed down, flying, etc.

"Mining" Science

As stated in the Science article, you can collect new Science from every legal combination of biome,situation, and activity - but the devices have many limitations on what is "legal." See thischart.

When you are starting, this means that for each of the 11 natural Kerbin biomes you want to get a status of both"landed" and "splashed down," to double your opportunities to get Science. Which means that you need tofind water in the Badlands, Desert, Grasslands, Highlands, Ice Caps, Mountains, and Tundra. And you need to figureout a way to land on top of the water without being "splashed down".

Also, there are 33 KSC mini biomes you can get science from, so get out and take a walk around the KSC. Normally, it's not possible to get a "flying" situation above the mini biomes, as trying to do so will result a "flying" situation above the natural biome you're on. However, it's still possible to get the "flying" situation in the mini biomes briefly before touching the ground. By toggling the landing gear attached to their vessel, one can trick the game to think that they're in "flying" situation, while being close enough to the mini biome they're located at. Another way is to get a kerbonaut on EVA, jump, and perform EVA report right before they land.

Tips for KSC science hunting

Most of the time, it's sufficient enough to simply be in the area of each building to count. However, some facilities have extra mini-biomes that requires you to be touching the smaller buildings.

Note that most of the mini biomes are only available through upgraded facilities.

R&D: There are 8 mini biomes that you can get science from. Either land on top of it or touch the side of the building.

VAB: The main building and 4 other structures are a mini biome on their own. Either land on top of it or touch the side of the building. Note that one of the mini biome, VAB South Complex, is accessible at level 2 VAB but inaccessible at level 3 VAB, making the science available there missable content.

SPH: The main building and 3 other structures are a mini biome on their own. Either land on top of it or touch the side of the building.

Tracking Station: Each of the dishes and the building itself are a mini biome on their own. Simply stand on the sloped ground (for the dishes) or touch the structure (for the building).

Astronaut Complex: Biome is available with level 1 Astronaut Complex if in contact with the structure, or anywhere on its hex after the first upgrade.

Tips for Kerbin

Badlands: Almost all the Badlands on Kerbin surround a giant mountain on the other side of the planet from KSC.

However, there is a big hill at the south end of the KSC continent. Next to that hill is a tiny crater with a tinypond at the bottom. The northeast side of that crater is Badlands. So you do not need to fly halfway around theplanet just to get Badlands points ... unless you want a "splashed" status.

Tundra: Most of the tundra on the planet is next to the polar Ice Caps. However, beach grass also counts as tundra,so there are tiny spots of it all over the entire planet, mixed with "shores" biomes. There are several spots of itjust northwest of the beginning of the KSC runway.

For getting a "landed" status in a water biome:

  • A Scientist standing on top of an airplane is "landed", even if the craft is "splashed." And if he activates a device, it goes by his status, not the craft's.
  • Ice Caps and Water biomes interpenetrate. Drive/sail a dozen kilometers along the edge of one to find the other.

For getting a "splashed" status in a land biome:

  • See above about Ice Caps.
  • Look away from the shore of the ocean, toward the middle of each continent. The shore is almost always "Shores."
  • Don't look at the really large lakes. Those are just "water" surrounded by "shores."
  • All the water on the Kerbin is at 0 altitude (with the one exception of the decorative pond outside the upgraded Administration building).
  • Mountain biomes have a minimum altitude of 2600 meters or so - except in the desert, where they can extend all the way down to sea level. (Extra tip #1: You don't even need to look on another continent. #2 A 250m tall hill qualifies as a "mountain" in the desert.)
  • Highland biomes have a minimum altitude of 600 meters or so - except in the Badlands, where they can extend all the way down to sea level.
  • There are a lot more tundra lakes at the South pole than the North.
  • Holding onto a ladder during an EVA gets your Kerbonaut a "flying" status for an EVA report (new status = more points!).

Spoilers for Kerbin

To find your latitude/longitude, you either need to be landed, or use a Surface Scanning Module. If you are landed, you can hover your cursor over your icon on the Orbital Map, or click the "info" button and look toward the bottom of the display. Right-clicking the Surface Scanning Module will also show your position.

KSC: lat -0.049, lon -74.711 (ie. 0 deg 2 min 56 sec S, 74 deg 42 min 41 sec W)

Example Locations

  • Splashed at Kerbin's Grasslands: lat -3.283, lon -77.700 (3° 17' 0" S, 77° 42' 0" W) (?)
  • Splashed at Kerbin's Badlands: lat -15.138, lon 48.468 (15° 8' 17" S, 48° 28' 5" W)
  • Splashed at Highlands: lat -12.624, lon 46.828 (12 deg 37 min 26 sec S, 46 deg 49 min 41 sec W)
  • Splashed at Kerbin's Deserts: lat -2.711, lon -87.734 (2° 42' 40" S, 87° 44' 1" W)
  • Splashed at Tundra: lat -73.837, lon -49.393 (73 deg 50 min 12 sec S, 49 deg 23 min 35 sec W)
  • Splashed at Ice Caps: lat -76.087, lon -64.676 (76 deg 5 min 15 sec S, 64 deg 40 min 32 sec W)
  • Landed on Water: lat -75.07, lon -48.37 (75 deg 4 min 11 sec S, 48 deg 22 min 15 sec W)

Getting Results Back Home

As said above: doing lots of science in the field will not suffice. Only when the results somehow find their way toyour R&D department will you be credited with science points.

Transmission and Recovery Values

Mystery Goo Observation

For every result, you have the choice to either transmit the data or to keep it. For most experiments, transmissionwill yield significantly fewer points than recovering the results - so much should be obvious. The two bars at thebottom of that window carry a lot of information, though:

First example, Mystery Goo:The absolute length of the bars represents the total amount of Science Points that can be collected from thatparticular experiment, in this case that would be 13 points. The bright green line shows the fraction of pointsyou will get for performing the experiment once; in this case, 10/13th or approx 77%. If you repeat thatexperiment, you will get 77% of the remaining three points, and so on. Every time you repeat that particularexperiment and recover the data, you will receive ~77% of however many (or few) science points are still left.As a rule of thumb, repeatable experiments are pretty much depleted after the third time.

The blue bar indicating transmission value follows a similar pattern, but please notice how even the dark bluestops far short of the total amount. No matter how many transmissions you make, you won't receive more than 30%of the available points. Once you are above the 30% threshold (eg, because you already returned one container),further transmissions will be worthless. The Mobile Processing Lab MPL-LG-2 can boost that number alittle (more on that below), but the fact remains: transmissions alone will get you only so far.

EVA report

For comparison, an EVA Report:Whether you transmit or return the data, you will get the full science points all in one go. That kind is oftencalled a "non-repeatable experiment", although "no need to repeat" would be more precise. You may of courserepeat it; filing the results more than once won't get you any more Science Points, though.

Recovering the results while leaving the equipment: Taking and Storing Data

All results are kept somewhere. If your Kerbal takes a surface sample, he carries it on himself at first. Themoment he enters a pod or capsule, the result is transferred from Kerbal to capsule. A message on the screennotifies you of this, though it fades pretty quickly.

If your research is based on equipment, like thermometers or the Mystery Goo™ Containment Unit, the resultsare stored on said equipment. Probably the most convenient means of recovering these results is to just recover thescience modules, but this is not the only way: a Kerbal can download the data (right-click during EVA, while in closeproximity to the equipment in question) and subsequently transfer it to a pod, capsule, or some other module.Simple experiments (e.g., thermometers) will then be available for immediate re-use; more complicated ones(e.g., Mystery Goo) will need to be "restored" by a Scientist. Once the data has been downloaded from them,spent modules may safely be left behind.

Getting and staying close enough to download data can be a hassle sometimes, even on the ground, much more soin space. Having ladders to cling to makes this much easier.

Kerbals can also take data from one pod and move it to another: that's important when you want to make anApollo-Style Mission where the Lander Module and the Return Vessel are two distinct spacecraft. To do this, thekerbonaut must EVA, move close to one pod, take all the data from it, move to the other pod, and store thedata onto the new pod or board it.

Most modules have only a limited capacity; typically, command pods can only take "one of each": one surface samplefrom here and one from there is possible, but if you want to take home two surface samples from the same site youneed to bring two pods. Incidentally, it is not necessary to board a capsule only to transfer the data, you canagain do this by right-click while being close to it. Putting data onto a module from the outside (i.e. withoutboarding the module) will store only as much data as the module can take, the remainder stays with the Kerbal.

On an EVA, Kerbals may only perform each crew activity once, until that data has been stored in a module. However,Kerbals are able to temporarily download an infinite amount of data from instruments and pods -- including storingmultiple copies of identical data. But eventually the Kerbal will probably need to board a pod, and pods usuallyhave much stricter limits (as said above).

If you transmit data, you will implicitly "take" it from a module without the hassles of EVA. The other effectsregarding re-usability and the possible need to restore the module are the same, regardless of whether you takethe data manually or by transmission.

Why transmit?

The benefit of transmission is a result of what was said above about storing science data. If you transmit thedata, then the equipment or kerbonaut is available to take data again. That is, transmitted data is alreadygone and does not need to be stored anywhere anymore. If you have one crew pod and a gravity detector, thenyou can travel to a biome, gather data once in the instrument, transmit it, gather it again, go on EVA, takethe data, store it in the command pod, then have the instrument gather the data a third time, and leave thiscopy stored in the device. Recovering multiple copies of some science data in one trip can be a very efficientthing to do. Transmitting data for partial science credit does not prevent you getting full credit later, whenyou recover another copy of the data at KSC.

The one time this is especially true is with crew reports. Unless you are clever about it, a command pod canonly take one crew report per mission. If you are traveling to several new biomes in a single mission, thenthis is a huge limitation. One way around it is to transmit all your crew reports when you take them. This enablesyour pod to take an infinite number of crew reports per mission, and you get instant 100% credit for each report.

Mobile Processing Lab MPL-LG-2

If you feed the Mobile Processing Lab MPL-LG-2 some results from science experiments, it can generate extrascience points for you. It does this by processing the science results into an internal form of "data", then ascientist slowly converts that internal data directly into science points. Both of these steps require a lot ofelectricity. Processing the science experiments into data does not destroy the experimental results themselves.Immediately after processing, the experiments can be removed from the lab, taken to KSC, and recovered for fullvalue - even while the scientist processes the resulting data and turns it into even more science points.

The lab can also store an infinite number of results from science experiments (multiple copies of the same experiment inthe same situation and biome), and restore the Mystery Goo™ Containment Unit and SC-9001 Science Jr. modules,making them available for reuse after transmitting or collecting data.

Make sure you read the article on the Mobile Processing Lab MPL-LG-2, because there are a lot of importantdetails you need to be aware of.

Tutorial:Science - Kerbal Space Program Wiki (2024)


How to get science in KSP science mode? ›

Science may also be obtained upon successful completion of certain contracts, or gained through the implementation of administrative strategies. Science must either be recovered or transmitted in order to be used on Kerbin to unlock additional technologies.

How much science do you need to unlock everything in KSP? ›

Unlocking the entire tree requires 18 468 Science including the hidden nodes, but 16 918 without. Before difficulty modifiers, there are 392 019.3 Science points available from experiments, and 6 055.8 from recovered vessels.

Do people at NASA play KSP? ›

Some people at NASA are using Kerbal Space Program to experiment in ways that real-world environments wouldn't allow. Kerbal Space Program has spread beyond the gaming community. Just ask NASA, they are fans.

What does Elon Musk think about Kerbal Space Program? ›

Elon Musk said his goal is to inspired people and next generation with space travelling right? KSP franchise fits that goal perfectly.

How realistic is KSP physics? ›

Physics. While the game is not a perfect simulation of reality, it has been praised for its largely accurate orbital mechanics; all objects in the game except the celestial bodies are simulated using Newtonian dynamics.

What is the hardest planet in KSP? ›

Tylo is the hardest place to land, Eve is the hardest place to return from. Pick which one you want, but those two are the final bosses of the game. One has planet sized gravity with zero atmosphere so every single meter per second must be bled through engines.

Is KSP kid friendly? ›

This game is great for kids seven and up, not because it's violent or scary it's just pretty hard to play and isn't for kids who want to learn with their screen time. In this game you learn about physics, aerodynamics orbital mechanics, money managing, geography and much more!

Does KSP have cheats? ›

Pressing ALT+F12 gave you access to the Debug Mode. In Early Access, you can toggle Unbreakable Joints, No Crash Damage, Infinite Propellant, and Infinite Electricity in the Settings Menu under General.

Can you get KSP for free? ›

The Demo version is free to download and play, and will remain so forever. The KSP Team is strongly committed to the project, and we are always listening for feedback from the players. Recommended System Specs: 2.0Ghz Dual Core CPU or higher (preferably higher)

Do satellites do anything in KSP? ›

But when you get further away from Kerbine you need communication satellites to be able to control probes when there is no Kerbal on board. This also is needed if you are on the dark side of a planet, when the planet blocks the direct communication with your space center. Science will only transmit so much.

Can you orbit the moon in KSP? ›

Mun orbit is best achieved through the use of moderately sized, multi-stage rockets such as the Kerbal X. Landing is only possible through the use of retrograde thrusters and landing gear; Mun's lack of an atmosphere makes parachutes completely useless.

Are space stations useful in KSP? ›

Space stations can also be used for scientific measuring using the various sensors. By placing a station on an eccentric orbit, measurements at different altitudes can be taken. However, it can be more efficient to perform these tasks with smaller and more maneuverable satellites.

What is the largest planet in the Kerbal Space Program? ›

Jool. Jool is the sixth planet from Kerbol. It is the largest planet in the Kerbol system, it has 5 moons: Laythe, Vall, Tylo, Bop, and Pol.

How to gather scientific data in Kerbal? ›

When you are ready to start gathering Science, right click on your Kerbal. Click on the green clipboard to save your findings. You can only store one Sample and Report on your Kerbal, so it's time to go back to your ship. Approach the pod, grab onto it and board.

Can you learn rocket science from Kerbal space program? ›

That said, KSP attempts to model space flight as realistically as possible and implements rocket science as well as it can. If you understand why rockets, planets, and moons move in the way they do, you'll find it easier to do more advanced stuff in the game.

Where is science stored in KSP? ›

The Experiment Storage Unit is used by Kerbals and unmanned probes to store science experiments. These can be stored until they are transmitted or brought back to Kerbin. In career mode, it is available with Basic Science, at level 4 of the technology tree.

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