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Nebula Expedition – Two Days, Three Nebula

The toys experimented with and the diversions of canyon running done, I set off back on the delayed nebula tour. This time the goal was two nebula that are close together in astronomical terms: the Pelican Nebula and the North America Nebula. I actually went on to do the Veil Nebula as well.

We’ll cover each of the nebula then we’ll get to what I’ve learned for the Distant Worlds expedition.

Pelican Nebula

The interesting thing about the Pelican and North America Nebula is they are, in astronomical terms, very close together. In fact, looking upon one of the nebula from outside you essentially see both side by side, which is pretty cool. The Veil nebula is nowhere near as close, but it’s within ‘see in the sky visibility’ from planets within these nebula.

This is what I really like about Elite, the way it provides some sense of a model of the galaxy. Planets have orbits. They rotate. Things you see in the distance are places you can go if you’re prepared to put in the light years, and so on.

One of the planets I landed on (above), randomly just by picking it as a close one when I entered a system, was pretty funky in that it was green. It was quite beautiful in a lonely, remote and green sort of way with the nebula hanging in the sky. It made a big change from the ruddy brown and white ice planets that’s for sure.

North America Nebula

The planets in Elite have their day and night cycles and you can see the light and dark side of the planet as you approach it. A number are tidal locked, which means there dark side remains the same all the time.

One of the planets I landed on around the North America Nebula had a glow on its night side due to the nebula in the sky. I certainly didn’t land on the part of the planet lit up by the sun, but in the part that was in shadow, but unlike other planets it’s night side wasn’t completely dark on the surface or on approach.

I also landed on a planet that was in orbit of a much larger planet which had rings. Naturally you could see these the planet and it’s rings from orbit. I did decide to visit the rings. That raised a question: would I risk flying through the rocks in planetary rings if I was ridiculously far from home? Probably not, as you’d risk bumping off a few. I did this time though and got some images. They’re not bad but I have a feeling they’ve toned the graphics down on the rings. Not sure. It may be that it’s an ice ring and the darker rocks look different hanging in space.

Veil Nebula

The trouble with visiting nebula in quick succession is they can start looking a bit the same. They’re not the same, but when you hit a number of them following the pink, red and dark colouring schemes you can overdose. It makes you want to catch a blue one like the quite unique one at the Distant Worlds first waypoint.

As can be seen from the images above, the Veil Nebula has a bit more of an angrier and darker colour than the other two. It looks a bit more like an angry storm that is still in full swing. It’ll be interesting how different the Elephants Trunk Nebula is, which is the next one on the list. Ideally, you’d want something a bit more unique in terms of colour or shape.


What’s amazing about the one above, looking out at the Veil Nebula from the surface of the planet is you can see what I can only assume is the Pelican and North America nebulas hanging off in the distance through the more transparent sections of the Veil Nebula itself. It’s great when you get these sort of shots as they truly show how you’re in a modelled galaxy that can literally be reached out to and visited.

Keep Alert, Keep Efficient, Drive Safe

I learned, or one might say I was reminded, of a number of things during my hops around the three nebula.

Travelling through hyperspace ain’t like dusting crops, boy! Without precise calculations we could fly right through a star, or bounce too close to a supernova and that’d end your trip real quick, wouldn’t it.

Never fly tired. I knew this. I learned it from my first 4K from Sol expedition. It’s just not worth it. A momentary lapse of concentration might mean you might ‘fly right through a star or bounce to close to a supernova’. Well, the first one can happen quite easily, albeit you crash out of supercruise with hull damage. That easily avoided hull damage is a slow countdown to turning around in a 65K expedition.

I forgot that and nodded off for a split second while landing. The result was a hard landing and a loss of 3% hull. It’s not a big deal on the current expedition but losing 3% only a handful hours into a three month trip would be a real pain in the arse. Not only that it would nag at me constantly for the stupidity.

Follow a simple rule: if you’re tired, don’t push the envelope, come back and do it another day. The potential time elapsed is way less of a risk than the hull deteriorating.

Materials efficiency. You can harvest rocks on planets for numerous means. The good thing is I’ve decided on this trip I only need to do four things with materials: repair, refuel and re-arm the SRV and replenish the ships automatic repair unit. Not only that, I don’t really need the two advances on any of those thing. They’re nice in some cases, but just that, nice. This radically reduces the materials I need. I have 300 cargo space for materials, I’ve dropped all I don’t need and am focusing on what I do. This is good.

I’m going have plenty of resources to deal with the SRV on launch, this means I have a significant buffer, and it should mean my journey is never diverted by a need to look for materials. Instead I’ll be doing top ups of a ‘full tank’ rather than desperately seeking to put drops in an ’empty tank’ so to speak. I should see myself okay just through natural landings to take images, picking up materials on the way.

The one problem I have is finding Zinc, which is odd as it’s a common material, this means I have less repair unit replenishes than I would like, but I still have two weeks to sort that.

People must be all GTA V with the SRV. You hear all sorts of stories of the SRV damaging easy. It being ‘way too easy to destroy’. I’m bringing my ‘Anaconda on the expedition as you really need four buggies’. Truth be told, I’ve been tempted to swap back to one buggy, the only thing that’s stopped me is the risk of a random bug destroying my fun and the fact I don’t really have much else to use the larger slot for.

You can drive well, fast enough and carefully to the point your SRV experiences minimal or no damage and this is without repair materials being plentiful. It’s just a matter of being patient, careful and sensible and not driving it around like you’re in some demented GTA V race. I’m really not sure what people are doing with the buggies to find them so difficult and fragile (or encounter destroying bugs on a regular basis, but then my lack of bug encounters compared to others is a common thread across most games).

I Am Feeling Prepared

I’m glad I’m making these trips. They’re trips I’ve wanted to do so I’m finding them interesting in and off themselves. They also allow me to prepare without the whole thing being ‘just about preparing’, which might have felt too much like work before the main fun.

It’s also having the impact I want: I’m feeling prepared. I’m not feeling like I’m about to start something which I can’t complete due to my own stupidity. I feel I have the right outfitting for my ship, albeit I accept I possibly have too much redundancy (but the alternatives, like a cargo hold, don’t yet appeal). I’m getting confident that I can keep my ship whole if I just avoid the tired flying and taking a medicome of care.

I’m involved in the Skype discussions occasionally, if something interesting pops up, and I’m reminded how amazingly friendly the community is. It’s ridiculous how it exemplifies all a gaming community should be about rather than what they’re usually about. It literally is a community and mentoring set-up rather than a toxic one of gamesmanship and elitism.

I’m beginning to think…I just might make it.

About Ian O'Rourke

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