Atmospheric scooping is an activity performed by using a specialized vehicle to dive into the upper atmosphere of a gas giant and scoop up hydrogen, some amount of which will be tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that has applications in nuclear science.
Vehicles for atmospheric scooping are available on DeMargas Station, which is across a quantum skim accelerator gate found in Gateway. An atmospheric scoop mount must first be installed on the ship you intend to use for this purpose. Any starship with a storage hold will do, the bigger the better.
Your first atmospheric scoop will be a low-level basic model, but new models become available as you increase your industry points. Most models are not necessarily a straight upgrade, but rather will specialize in a certain role, so choose according to your preference.
Upon purchasing these two things, take your ship to any gas giant; for example, Jupiter in the Sol System. Autopilot to the planet, and choose the option to descend into the upper atmosphere. Your ship will be safe here as long as it can maintain powered flight -- which means don't run out of charge!
Once in place, use the SCOOP
command to begin flying the atmospheric scoop itself. Take note: your scoop will now constantly be in flight until you return to your ship, so keep a close eye on what's going on!
Naturally, your scoop will start at a depth of zero, but as you descend, depth will increase. Once you're a few kilometers down into the atmosphere, you will begin seeing clouds. These are your target, as they are far more likely to contain the tritium you're looking for. Aim for the cloud, and as you enter it, open your scoop's intakes to begin taking in tritium. Your scoop will try to filter out the non-isotopic hydrogen, but understand that this isotope is very rare -- even a load of hydrogen that's 0.25% tritium is very valuable.
When your scoop is full, return to your ship. Hydrogen will be transferred automatically from the scoop's storage to your ship's. You will probably want to take the scoop out again until your ship's hold is full. Once you're done scooping, go to any location that accepts salvage and transfer your load. You will be paid based on the percentage of tritium you found.
The scoop is controlled with just a few commands.
: Launch the scoop from your ship.
: The scoop's description shows some current statistics, in case you lose track of what's going on.
, or LEVEL
(shortened to U
, or LEV
): Make the scoop climb, dive, or fly level. This changes your depth.
, or STRAIGHT
(shortened to RI
, or S
): Make the scoop turn right or left, or stop turning and fly straight. Use this to match your heading to the direction of a cloud.
(shortened to O
): Open and close the hydrogen intakes. Your storage hold will gradually fill while they are open. Open only within clouds for best effect.
: Check the amount of hydrogen in the scoop's storage.
: Return to the ship and transfer your stored hydrogen.
: Talk to other scoops deployed by your ship.
The atmospheres of gas giants are rough -- high winds, caustic trace elements, chemical slush, even organic matter. Your scoop, in particular its intakes and rotors, will take gradual damage as you operate it. There is nothing you can do about this, but don't worry, the damage accumulates slowly, and your scoop will automatically return if the damage exceeds its safety margins.
While on the ship, your scoop will automatically look after its own maintenance, gradually restoring itself to working order. You can check its progress with the STATUS
command in your ship's engineering room (this will be in the control room on cargo haulers). With regular maintenance, your atmospheric scoop can be operated for one to two cycles each day (about five to nine hours).
Scoopin' an' Groupin'
Your ship (or a friend's) can hold more than one atmospheric scoop, if you wish to cooperate! This has no mechanical advantage, but may pass the time quicker.
In order to do this, you must both have your scoop-equipped ships on the same landing pad. Then, the one who wishes to move his or her scoop should use the MOVESCOOP
command, select their ship, and then the other ship. Both scoops will now be on one ship, and you can scoop together.
Although the tritium will appear to be mixed in storage, each participant will be paid for the amount and purity of tritium they personally scooped.
- When you've just emerged from a cloud, you don't necessarily have to go looking for a new one. Try circling around and diving back in!
- There are other gas giants out there. Look around, explore, or ask other pilots where to find them. As your scoop increases in quality, you will need to find planets to match to reach your maximum potential!
- Experiment. Try different strategies and search at different depths. Scooping is a game of time vs. reward. Find your most efficient method!