My second expedition was to the supergiant star Antares. I’d been there before in my Cobra Mk III when ED was first released, but I didn’t have an Advanced Discovery Scanner then and it was harder to plot a route to because the plotting distance limit was about 100 ly. This time around I was better prepared, heading out in a new Keelback with an ADS and fighter bay!
Once I made it back to the bubble, I tried out a new exploration ship – the Keelback! It’s not really designed for that purpose, but it’s the cheapest ship that can carry a Fighter Bay, which means I can use the fighters as glorified camera drones to take pictures from further away! This is a proof-of-concept shot of the Keelback after refuelling at a star. I can’t really get much further than a few hundred metres away from the ship without it becoming too tiny to see, but it’s definitely better than the debug camera!
To break in the new ship, I went on a second expedition to Antares! I did the first one last year but I didn’t have an Advanced Discovery Scanner at the time and missed a few planets around Antares itself, so the aim of this expedition is to rectify that omission! The range on the Keelback isn’t as good as the Asp Explorer, but it’s decent enough (I think it’s better than the Cobra Mk III I made the original trip with). So here I am en route to Antares – at Col 359 Sector MW-V D2-62 (there’s a mouthful!) I found two more Gas Babbies. This is the larger one, around 17,000 km radius.
This is the smaller one, only about 13,500 km in radius. At barely twice the size of Earth (and just under 3 earth masses) it’s more like a subgiant really. But it did have a nice ring system – I took the fighter out to capture this pic of the Keelback looking rather tiny against the rings.
I found a water world at HIP 81582! With a 94% oxygen atmosphere too, which must be fun. But the next system outdid that one…
At IC 4604 BA-A D89 I found a ringed water world!
I took the fighter out again to get a view of the Keelback in the rings. The water world was a binary with a large ringed gas giant too. But that wasn’t all…
IC 4604 BA-A D89 was also a binary system, and the companion system itself had binary water worlds! Two for the price of one here! Unfortunately someone else had already claimed first discovery on them all, but I should still get the cash for handing them in.
Made it to Antares – here is the *complete* system! I got all the other planets (I actually visited them all before so I have full data for them), but I missed the three orbiting Antares because they were further than the 1000 ls range on the Intermediate Scanner I had last year.
So here’s one of the things I don’t like about ED – the lighting is pretty badly done. Rings don’t cast shadows on planets, but planets can cast shadows on rings… but only from one light source. Here the planet is off to the right, and we’re seeing the shadow cast on it by Antares B, but Antares A is right opposite and should be lighting up the planet (and the ring shadow) too… but it doesn’t. So we get weird scenes like this.
Horizons came out after my first trip here, and one of the planets around Antares B was landable! It was a bit hair-raising since it was a large world with 1.88G gravity but I made it down in one piece. And it also had rings!
Going out for a drive (which was very nice in the high gravity – very little skidding!) I was rather stunned to find a burnt out Scarab vehicle nearby! What’s it doing all the way out here? The cannisters were a mix of stuff – palladium, superconductors, mossianite… and something rather odd…
Apparently someone was running Bootleg Liquor out here?! I tried to bring it back with me, but after I found I couldn’t transfer it to my ship I realised that I hadn’t actually installed a cargo bay on the Keelback! The only way I’d be able to do that is to ditch the shield generator, which is doable but rather risky – it’s not possible to fix hull damage out in the field, and if I crash then that’s it, shields can’t mitigate the damage. So sadly, I had to leave the liquor behind. Probably would have been nice to have for the trip back…
I drove up a nearby mountain to get a view back to the parked ship. Theoretically it’s down at the base of the ridge on the horizon, but I’d driven far enough for it to take off and wait in orbit (in game terms, they leave the instance if you drive far enough). Still, nice view .
Of course, that left me having to recall the ship, and I was a bit nervous about the AI being able to land the ship in one piece in the high gravity! Here I’m holding my breath while watching it land itself – fortunately it made it down successfully!
I’m quite pleased with how this one turned out. I flew along a bit and managed to find a spot where I could see both Antares A and B on either side of the ring! (I guessed my landing spot for the view pretty well ). I took four screenshots from there and found I could stitch them together to make a panorama in photoshop! I think it came out rather well . Antares B is on the left, around 2 AU from the planet (which should be rather toasty at 1000K). Antares A is on the right, at about 340 AU from the planet – and it’s still looking pretty big in the sky (in the game it’s about 1.76 AU in radius, much smaller than reality).
After a long trip out to Antares A, I could finally visit the Antares A planets. They’re all roasting lava worlds. A1 is a molten 10 earth mass monster terrestrial world with a temperature around 4700 K (!), orbiting 5 AU from the centre of Antares (so we’re about 3.24 AU from the surface of the star here). The bright blue star on the left is Antares B, surrounded by its brown dwarf retinue.
Antares A2 is slightly larger than Earth and fares slightly better at 5 AU from the stellar surface, with a temperature of “only” 2800 K.
I had to fly past Antares to get to A3 (refuelling on as I did so!), you really get the sense of scale as it takes a while to pass it by!
Finally, A3 is very similar to A2, but still manages to be about the same temperature despite orbiting around 7.4 AU from Antares’ surface.
Mission accomplished, I started heading back for home. I parked up on the rim of a large impact basin on a small planet orbiting the nearby B V star HIP 80819 (and as I was typing all this up over the past hour, the sun set there.
Here’s the sunset from HIP 80819. I like that things change over time . But before heading back home, I made a brief side trip to the nearby IC 4604 nebula!
I rather like this picture – soaring over the icy rings of IC 4604 RY-R B4-0 10! This was another gas babby, only 12,800 km in radius. The system was also very close to the IC 4604 nebula which hangs over the planet here.
The IC 4604 FB-X C1 16 system was literally right in front of the IC 4604 nebula, and it looked like the sky was on fire from here. This is actually a two image panorama to get more of the spectacular view .
On the way back to Khun, I landed on a world in the Col 359 SB-I B12 system with a very close companion planet looming over the horizon. Net result of this trip – about a million Cr of exploration data, lots of nice photos, and promotion to Pathfinder rank! 🙂