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In KSP, I can do science "from space just above Kerbin's Deserts" or "while flying over Kerbin's Water".

At what altitude do I stop "flying over" and start sciencing "from space just above"? At what altitude am I "in space near Kerbin"? In other words, how low do I have to be for the biome to register?

Moreover, for the Mun (or other biome-bearing body), how close do I need to get in order to register as in "space just above" or "flying over" the Mun's highlands, for example?

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I don't know the answer to your question, but I suspect I know why you're asking it. You want to identify the biomes on these given planetary bodies so that you can land there and collect some "sweet sweet science" as Scott Manley likes to say. If that is the case, you should check out "SCANsat." Its an awesome mod that will deliver just what you're looking for, without any of the tedium. Basically it gives you the ability to research and unlock satellite mapping technology. You can use SCANsat to map your biomes. –  Lumberjack Feb 21 '14 at 21:32
Actually, I was hoping to do some science without landing, just by overflying the biomes. I can do that on Kerbin, but no matter how low I fly over the Mun, I always seem to be "in space near Mun", rather than "flying over the Mun's highlands". –  Roger Lipscombe Feb 22 '14 at 8:32

1 Answer 1

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Science in Kerbal Space Program knows five corridors:

  • On the Ground
  • Lower Atmosphere
  • Upper Atmosphere
  • Near Space
  • Outer Space

Note that only sub-orbital flights will be considered atmospherical, even if the altitude is inside the given corridor - aerobraking is considered "Near Space" even if below the threshold.

That said, the threshold depends on the body:

Chart of corridors for Kerbin, Mun and Minmus

On Kerbin (left), anything below ~18km of altitude will be considered flying over (that is, Lower Atmosphere). Outer Space on Kerbin starts at ~250km. The shift from Upper Atmosphere to Near Space is the edge of Kerbin's atmosphere (~69km), and (as detailed above) may depend on the trajectory.

On the Mun (middle), there is obviously no atmosphere. Here, the Outer Space to Near Space transition is at ~60km.

And, for good measure, the same as for the Mun also applies for Minmus (right), but here the threshold is at ~30km.

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The "Outer Space" corridor, of course, ends with the Sphere of Influence of the given body. –  user98085 Feb 21 '14 at 22:47
It turns out that there's a difference between crew reports and EVA reports. One registers the biome; one doesn't. –  Roger Lipscombe Mar 31 '14 at 17:55
@RogerLipscombe That is indeed also explained on the wiki article I linked to. :) –  user98085 Mar 31 '14 at 20:39

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