Ariel circumnavigation

Ariel was always a special place. It was the first planetary body I landed on when the beta of Horizons was released. For me, it is one of the most atmospheric places (although it doesn't really have one).

So, time to do the circumnavigation of Ariel!

I took in my trusty Cobra Mk III "Shamash" to Sol, flew 9000-or-so light seconds to Ariel and positioned her as accurately as possible over the north pole. This will be my starting point.

I have no set a schedule but will regularly report progress in this thread. As you approach Ariel, you will undoubtedly notice her deep ridges and canyons. Purposely, I have not done any scouting for this trip. I will randomly choose a direction and see what the sky spirit throws at me.

My plan is to drive this in Open.

Last edited:
The first stretch done this morning. A 90-minute session brought me from 90° North to 84° North. I'm roughly following the 150° meridian. As expected, the terrain is challenging. Just 10 minutes in I encountered the first canyon. This one some 4 km deep. The descent wasn't too bad but getting out proved difficult. I had to track east for a bit and then slowly crab up. At its steepest, the rise was over 60%. Many, many repairs already so I'm sure my 175+ supply will not be enough...

Last edited:
I got into a chasm on Ariel whose sides were like a lobster-pot... I got in easily enough, but getting out was impossible! The poor srv didn't have enough power to make any upwards progress at all, even by crabbing.

In the end, I got to a relatively flat ledge, and requested dust-off from my ship.

Congratulations on overcoming that canyon, commander, and good fortune with your onward journey.

I'm here to cheer on Jonas and chew bubblegum, and I'm all out of gum.

Good luck! I'm really excited about these circumnavigations crossing epic terrain features that will be a serious challenge to navigate.
A further 10° progress and now sitting at 74° North. The terrain has changed for the better. Around the pole, it was a particularly bumpy ride with small but relatively deep crevasses. All of them axle busters. That changed around 82° North when the terrain became more like a collection of planes separated by shallow canyons. This allowed me to make better progress and get the speed to maximum when crossing the planes. Obviously the huge bedrock slabs all huddle around the start (or the end) of a plane, so you can't afford to not pay attention...

Some stats:

Repairs so far: 21
Refuels: 3
Extreme canyons: 1
Ship recall fails: too many... I blame Frontier for implementing a crappy autopilot. My rule of thumb: if the ship lands behind me, I'll spend the night in the SRV. I don't drive back on this trip!

Last edited:
I love those shots of the SRV flying with your light source behind you: the shadow of the vehicle looks like some bizarre bird slowly descending upon you... The planetary view in the system map isn't particularly useful as it doesn't display any navigational data but at least you can see what might be coming your way. Looks like I will be in for some serious canyons...

Unfortunately, the slow rolling planes have abruptly disappeared and I'm now battling endless fields of humps and bumps with some very steep ridges every now and then. My driving is full throttle and I "fly" as much as I can but in these bumpy fields it can get tricky and once you go wrong it's always difficult to get the rhythm back.

Shortly after this evening's start I also had to cross another deep canyon. This one was particularly difficult and I had to follow the canyon for some 90km's before I managed to find a path up the steep wall.

My ship keeps annoying me on recalls. I stand in the middle of a flat plane and it lands in a bumpy area 1.5 km's away, on top of a huge slab of stone so I can't board. Why?

I am now at 65° North. Despite the difficult terrain, resonable progress.

Last edited:
in these bumpy fields it can get tricky and once you go wrong it's always difficult to get the rhythm back.
So true! I'm doing the Buckyball Race at the moment and it begins with a brutal crater descent. It's 1.2g, steep and littered with the most vicious scatter rocks I've ever seen. Trying to keep a consistent rythmn seems absolutely key to this section (less haste more speed it would seem).
Yep, the obligatory crashed Diamondback Explorer... also on Ariel.

Good progress today. Nice, flat planes with the occasional canyon but none that broke a sweat to negotiate. Currently at 49° North. I was wondering how many km's I've driven so let's do some math. Ariel has a radius of 579 km. That gives a circumference of roughly 3.636 km. I need to drive from 90° North to 90° South and then back again to 90° North. That's 360°. Which leaves roughly 10 km per °. My progress is 41°, so I've roughly covered 410 km. I'm sure someone will correct me if I made a mistake here...

Last edited:
Not much progress, unfortunately. Firstly, it was pitch black. Secondly, I drove into a canyon "hors categorie" (as the French say in the Tour). It took forever to get out, needing three in-tumble emergency repairs. And I had to follow the canyon floor for a good while which was littered with spikes and crevasses. When eventually an opportunity came to climb the wall on the opposite side, I was exhausted. Sitting at 44° North.

Pitch black, Ariel in Uranus's shadow...

Sitting a couple of hundred meters from the canyon, taking a break in my trusty Cobra Mk III
Top Bottom