The Science of TerraGenesis: Orbital Surveyor

Searching out new resources with the orbital surveyor.

Selecting a new colony site isn’t as easy as looking out of the window of your ship and picking a spot at random. There is a whole lot more to it than that. Getting onto the surface of a planet or celestial body to see whether a spot is useful for a colony is both a costly and potentially dangerous mission. Therefore, scientists have developed the orbital surveyor. The terraformer’s way of surveying from a distance.

In order to find the perfect site there are a number of factors that need to meet a set criteria:

  • The land needs to be large enough to support the colony
  • It needs to be flat enough for structures to be built
  • There need to be sufficient natural resources nearby
  • There needs to be room for expansion as the colony grows

And that’s just for a start. The list goes on. The orbital surveyor, thankfully, delivers reams and reams of information based intricate readings taken through scans of the planet. These scans are carried out by a satellite that maps, graphs and details the surface and below.

Note that it’s not just the topography that is measured but, through powerful laser, UV and newly discovered technology, what lies beneath the surface can be discovered too. That means that valuable natural resources ranging from potential water sources to precious metals and fuel can be surveyed. That means that the guesswork is taken away from mining. It means that terraformers can all but guarantee they’re digging in the right spot to harness what lies beneath.

Terraforming isn’t cheap work, digging for raw materials and precious metals allows factions to create a steady stream of credits to enable purchases of more and more impressive technologies. That makes the positioning of your mines all the more important. Position it over an empty patch of ground and you’ll be digging for nothing, pick the right site, using the orbital surveyor and you’ll be digging in paydirt before you know it.

The orbital surveyor isn’t just a useful resource for mining processes but also useful for understanding how the world that you’re terraforming will change and alter as the terraforming process moves forward. Increases in heat and radiation might lead to the melting of ice caps. That melting will lead to rising sea levels. If you’ve not checked the height of your settlement or outpost correctly using the orbital surveyor then you could be in hot water (literally) before you know it. 

The orbital surveyor will be one of the first tools that you’ll use in your terraforming arsenal, but it certainly won’t be the last. Master this tool and you’ll be building suitable, safe outposts and fruitful, functioning mines.