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I've been playing KSP for a while, and can land on the Mun, Minmus, etc. but one thing I've never been able to find a clear answer to is - can I only get the same science one time?

For example, when starting KSP Career mode, one thing I've done is strap like 8 Science Goo pods to my simple rocket and just Open all eight while in orbit. Do I therefore get the 8 sciences for that trip? Or does it only count one of them, making the 7 extras superfluous? Or, when I land on the Mun, if I only have one Goo pod, and I collect that science, AFAIK I can't ever get many science points from doing that again. This leads me to think I'd better "go big or go home" when doing almost anything for the first time.

My main reason for asking is, why set up a "science station" on the Mun, if I only ever get the science goo one time, or the science bay points one time? At that point, is it just to build neat things to orbit Kerbin, but don't have any practical reason/purpose?

Don't get me wrong, I love the game, I'm just curious about how Science works broadly.

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Yes, you can only get the same science once, for every combination of situation and biome. The KSP Wiki has a list of these combinations.

This means you can get up to 16 goo readings from the surface of the Mun - since the Mun has 16 biomes, and the goo is biome-specific (not all experiments are), as well as two more in space high and low over the Mun.

Still, returning the same experiment multiple times is beneficial. If you look at the Mystery Goo container, it has a base value of 10 and maximum value of 13. This means returning the experiment the first time will give you 10 science (on Kerbin, where the multiplier is 1), which is 10/13 of the maximum value, or ~77%. Returning the experiment a second time will yield 77% of the remaining three science, so 3 * 0.77 = 2.3 science. Returning it again after that yields 0.77 * 0.7 science and so on. Eventually it won't be desirable to return it again.

Some experiments, like the thermometer, have the same base and max value. this means returning them once yields all the science, and subsequent returns yield zero. The thermometer also has a transmission efficiency of 100%, making it unnecessary to return it at all.

This is for returning the experiment. If you transmit the experiment, returning it still gives you the difference between transmission and recovery.

The goo container has a 30% transmission efficiency, so transmitting it gives you 3 science. If you return a goo container after you transmitted those 30%, you will get 7 science for returning it (for a total of 10), and after that, see above.

Note that you never get more then 30% for the goo container. if you first recovered it for 10 science, and then transmit, you get 0 science, since 10 is more then 3.

As far as stations go, these can serve multiple purposes:

1.) As home/refuel base while a lander travels to each biome, running every experiment, and then returns. The science gets stored in the station, a scientist resets the experiments on he lander, and off it goes to the next biome. after all biomes are done, the science gets transferred to a return vehicle which brings it back to kerbin

2.) The mobile processing lab. This module is often used in the endgame and a centerpiece of a science station. You can bring experiments (even ones you have already returned before) to it and collect data from them, slowly churning out more science while using lots of energy.

3.) Stations are not only used for science. They are often used for refueling. A station in LKO or base on minmus is often desirable to keep the launcher small and then refuel in orbit with fuel mined on moons or from asteroids. in fact, you mostly don't need science stations (there is way more science that can be gathered then that is needed to complete the tech tree, you can finish the tech tree only with science from kerbin, the Mun and minmus) or at most one, while having multiple refueling stations is very desirable.

  • Thanks! This is a lot of good info. With regard to your point 1) Would this mean, I could create a space center on the Mun (or Minmus, or whatever), which has a capsule to keep a Scientist. Then, I can create a car/rocket that just travels to different biomes, gets Goo samples, Surface Samples, EVAs, etc. and then return to that scientist, who can take the Science and store it ...somewhere (where would he store it)? Then, that rocket can go to another biome, repeat. After collecting everything, send that Scientist and wherever the Science is stored, back to Kerbin for maximum science? – BruceWayne Jan 10 '17 at 0:30
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    In theory, thats possible. But its not practicable. A rover is slow. Really, really slow. it would take hours to get from one biome to another (and you can only warp 4x with physics). A "hopper" - a lander that can land and take off multiple times - that "hops" from biome to biome is much more time efficient. Science is simply stored in any command pod, lander can, the lab or he science storage bin. I almost exclusively store it in the pods. – Polygnome Jan 10 '17 at 10:27
  • so there is no limit to science stored in the command pod, even with just one Kerbal? – BruceWayne Jan 10 '17 at 14:01
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    There is a limit. you can only store the same experiment once in the pod. "same" here refers to the combination of experiment, situation and biome, e.g. you can have two goo reports in the pod, if they are from different biomes, but not two goo reports from the same biome and situation (not two goo reports from the surface of the munar highlands). The MPL is different in that regard, as it allows to store you the same experiment multiple times. – Polygnome Jan 10 '17 at 14:36
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    4) It can be used to farm missions. Transmit science from... Plant flag on.. and so on. As for hopper @BruceWayne you can check out ones for Mun and Minmus I made for another question – PTwr Jan 12 '17 at 12:18
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You can only get the same science once, even if you bring eight goo containers.

This will not show when doing experiments until that science is returned though. But you still get the science only once, even with multiple experiments. There are two minor exceptions to the 'once' rule:

  • If you transmit science, you can still get the difference between transmit value and recover value by recovering it.
  • Surface sample, goo container and materials bay get a tiny bit of science on the second and third tests, but those are seriously diminishing returns.

And then there is the mobile processing lab - which is probably what you are looking for.

The lab takes experiments in the form of data, so those can be experiments which already produce zero science for you. Then, it needs electricity and scientists, and over (a fairly long) time produces science from that data. The kind of science you can actually use.

The lab also produces more science on the hard to reach bodies, especially if you use local experiments for it (at least according to the KSP wiki, I have not personally tested this part). So this is the reason to set up science stations.

KSP wiki link for the lab, for convenience: http://wiki.kerbalspaceprogram.com/wiki/Mobile_Processing_Lab_MPL-LG-2

  • Thanks for this! To be pedantic, even if I strap 100 Goo Containers to a rocket, go to the Mun, I can open the Goo containers, and it'll show me I'm collecting, say, 20 Science per container if I keep it for return. Therefore, I have a theoretical 20*100 = 2,000 science points. However, when I actually return to Kerbin, only one of those will give me science? So I effectively wasted weight on 99 pointless Goo containers? – BruceWayne Jan 10 '17 at 0:32
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    @BruceWayne Yes. goo has base value of 10, mun surface a multiplier of 4. That means you get 40 science for the "first" of those containers (which ever counts as first when you return), and then 3*4 * 0.77 = 9.24 for the next one, then ~2.1 for the third, then ~0.5 for the nex one and so on. You quickly approach the point where you get virtually zero science for more container, I usually return the same experiment only twice, if at all. The third is already very questionable, unless you are in the Joolian system or on eeloo. – Polygnome Jan 10 '17 at 14:43

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