Atmospheric Planets: Gameplay and Flight Modes for Atmospheric Flight

Now we all know for sure that in 2020 we're gonna have Legs AND Atmospheric Planets :unsure:
Jokes aside, here is a proposal for the Atmospheric Transition in case Atmospheric Planets will ever be taken into consideration.

LANDING ON AN ATMOSPHERIC PLANET
The ships need to be equipped with an advanced planetary landing module that allows to land on airless and atmospheric planets (this replaces the old one). This module allows also the ship to fly on the planet surface at regular speeds, like in the void, even in thick and dense atmosphere ignoring the air drag. The fuel consumption is eventually increased but it is such a low difference that it can be negligible (or taken into consideration in case FDEV decides to make a more complex fuel consumption model).

The initial approach to the planet and its exclusion zone is like any regular airless planet, with speed automatically limited at 200 km/s.

Crossing the mesosphere the ship will start making glowing/burning effects and the heat levels will rise at the fix value of 60%. The ship will also experience vibration and heavy turbulence. The speed will be reduced automatically by the FSD like approaching an airless planets.

Glide Phase 1: it starts entering the stratopause (ELW and WW is around 50 km altitude). Speed is limited at 5 km/s and the heat level rises to 70%. In this phase it is mandatory to keep the ship pitch in a range between -45° and -30°. There will still be turbulence during this transition so it would require constant input from the player to keep the ship in the appropriate range. This Glide Phase can’t be interrupted, if you fail to keep the attitude the ship will start heating up.
You can eventually sink down with a pitch of -90° but the heat levels will immediately jump to values higher than 500% (for example). If your pitch is higher than -30° the FSD will have to correct the ship drift generated by the atmospheric drag (explanation for the lore) so it will heat up again. If you pitch above 0° you climb again to orbit and the heat level will fix again at 70%. Glide Phase 1 ends reaching the Tropopause (around 20km altitude for ELW and WW). According to the math this phase is 10 seconds long.

Glide Phase 2: in the Troposphere we have the meteorological phenomena with jet streams at high altitude, rain, clouds and winds. Atmospheric transition is over so there's no more risk of overheating. The ship slows down to 2.5 km/s fixed. Here you have no more pitch limitations, except that if you pitch above -5° the glide stops. You can use this phase to correct your route in case you overshot your destination or you’re still far from it because of the limitations of phase 1. The ship can experience strong turbulence because of high altitude jet streams or dense clouds. Phase 2 ends at 5 km altitude.


Normal Flight Mode
Since our ships fly as bricks with powerful thrusters and they have the advanced atmospheric module installed the aerodynamics do not really affect the flight except for the winds because the ship is completely immersed in the atmospheric fluid. Like in normal aircrafts the wind speed and direction could speed up or slow down our maximum speed. If we have head wind we may decide to fly closer to the ground where this is weaker. If we have tail wind we may decide to fly at high altitude to get some real boost from the jet streams. The drift caused by the lateral wind is instead corrected by the Flight Assist.
The ship is also exposed to all strong environmental phenomena like thunderstorms and turbolence through the thick clouds.


Leaving an atmospheric planet
It’s not possible to high-wake from the troposphere. If the troposphere is thin you can cross it in normal flight and then high-wake from the stratosphere in Normal Flight mode without overheat issues. Otherwise you can low-wake in Supercruise at 2.5 km altitude. Speed is limited to 2.5 km/s until you reach the stratosphere. Ship is still affected by strong turbolence crossing the high altitude jet streams.

Once in the stratosphere the ships accelerate up to 5 km/s and the Heat Level rise again to 70%. Now it is possible to high-wake if your ship does not overheat easily. Otherwise you need to wait to a bit more to have a clean High-Wake.
In the stratosphere supercruise, if you decide to go back to the planet surface as soon as you sink down below 0° pitch the ship will automatically go into Glide Phase 1, so you‘ll have to control the ship in the correct pitch range again (-45°-30°) to avoid overheat.

Once the ship is out of the stratosphere and into the mesosphere the heat level reduces again to 60%. The ship behaves like leaving an airless planets, so accelerating as the altitude increases and the ship goes into orbital flight mode. Once out of the stratosphere the heat level returns to the regular value.


TO RESUME:

134508
 
All well and good, but we already have a standard-issue Planetary Approach Suite installed on our ships. We’ll just get the standard-issue “Your PAS has been upgraded by magical space gnomes while you were in the head.” like they’ve done with things like the FSS, the Data Link Scanner and Military Slots.

No need to put in for refit.

What we might get is some new Engineering to gr... to enhance our personal narrative, so we can approach at sharper angles, heat up less, and spill our drinks less frequently (reduce turbulence).
 
Very nice ideas, but a tonne of problems with the current tech our ships are using. We can scoop from one of the most violent environments known to man (Neutron stars) We can scoop with ease in close proximity to other types of stars. Our engines are capable of providing unlimited thrust up to 11g (tested)

Questions I have been asking for a long time -

Why would parasitic drag be an issue for our ships?

Why would a ship capable of riding a Neutron stars magnetic field, have any issue on approach through a planets atmosphere?

Why would G/S vs A/S even be an issue if our only limit is the thruster software controlling the amount of thrust (and total velocity) the ship is capable off?

Am intersted in what the devs come up, they have essentially given us ships with capabilities way beyond anything that would pose a challenge in atmospheric flight.

If they stick to the current flight model, most I expect is some turbulence depending on the type of atmosphere, and mild to moderate heat build up on approach.

What I do expect to see is some nice visuals on approach, and interesting weather (low visibility/rain/hail/alien weather, extreme low temps)
 
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Why should the ship burn and heat up before Glide phase 1?

Edit: Remember, before Glide phase 1, the ship is still in Supercruise and therefor not affected by newtonian physics.
 
With all the latest info on the moon apparently being in the earths atmosphere now. Who knows what to believe, when it comes to where space starts?
 
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Very nice ideas, but a tonne of problems with the current tech our ships are using. We can scoop from one of the most violent environments known to man (Neutron stars) We can scoop with ease in close proximity to other types of stars. Our engines are capable of providing unlimited thrust up to 11g (tested)

Questions I have been asking for a long time -

Why would parasitic drag be an issue for our ships?

Why would a ship capable of riding a Neutron stars magnetic field, have any issue on approach through a planets atmosphere?

Why would G/S vs A/S even be an issue if our only limit is the thruster software controlling the amount of thrust (and total velocity) the ship is capable off?

Am intersted in what the devs come up, they have essentially given us ships with capabilities way beyond anything that would propose a challenge in atmospheric flight.

If they stick to the current flight model, most I expect is some turbulence depending on the type of atmosphere, and mild to moderate heat build up on approach.

What I do expect to see is some nice visuals on approach, and interesting weather (low visibility/rain/hail/alien weather, extreme low temps)
I agree with this. I can't see landing will be an issue. As for take off, there will be no terminal velocity and it should be no issues taking off. Our ships can do it with ease (depending on pressure, type of atmosphere etc).
 
Well, atmosphere forms a barrier against acceleration and winds are acting as an acceleration towards a certain direction. The effect of that would depend on the density of the atmosphere and velocities of the winds/gusts.

Atmospheric resistance is scaled by the surface area of the ship and the aerodynamics of the shape. One could simplify this by an aerodynamics factor defined to all six directions of the ship and then calculate relevant fractions from the angles and some Pythagoras.

Wind influence can be stabilized with thrusters but the level of instability that causes depends on the reaction time of the thrusters, strength of the thrusters and strength of the wind and the directional aerodynamics factor.

Sure, you can fly a Type-9 into atmosphere and land it, but in a high density/high gusts stormy weather it will be even more sluggish and unstable than it already is.

And a ship coming out of glide on top of a station will probably create a sonic boom depending on the size of the ship and the kind of atmosphere. Should be pretty unique.
 
Very nice ideas, but a tonne of problems with the current tech our ships are using. We can scoop from one of the most violent environments known to man (Neutron stars) We can scoop with ease in close proximity to other types of stars. Our engines are capable of providing unlimited thrust up to 11g (tested)

Questions I have been asking for a long time -

Why would parasitic drag be an issue for our ships?

Why would a ship capable of riding a Neutron stars magnetic field, have any issue on approach through a planets atmosphere?

Why would G/S vs A/S even be an issue if our only limit is the thruster software controlling the amount of thrust (and total velocity) the ship is capable off?

Am intersted in what the devs come up, they have essentially given us ships with capabilities way beyond anything that would propose a challenge in atmospheric flight.

If they stick to the current flight model, most I expect is some turbulence depending on the type of atmosphere, and mild to moderate heat build up on approach.

What I do expect to see is some nice visuals on approach, and interesting weather (low visibility/rain/hail/alien weather, extreme low temps)
Lots of valid points. Most of my concept is for the sake of some deeper gameplay. I would explain that the planetary approach suite is an hybrid flight mode between FSD and Normal flight so it can perform similarly to the first with some weakness from the second one.
 
I still thing that some ships should need some aerodynamics appendices to be able to fly in atmospheric planets, for example the Ts.
 
One could argue that the mass from the atmosphere causes the FSD to produce more heat than normal during a glide as it is not only folding space/time but also mass. So the denser the atmosphere, the hotter it gets.
 
I still thing that some ships should need some aerodynamics appendices to be able to fly in atmospheric planets, for example the Ts.
If they can fly in no atmosphere, they can fly in any atmosphere. Only difference is the additional resistance atmosphere adds to accelerating in one or another direction.
 
Ballistic atmospheric landing is so 21st century.

With our 3305 ships, just enter geosynchronous orbit and make a controlled descent straight down. We have fusion reactors that provide massive amounts of continuous thrust for hours if not days.
 
Ballistic atmospheric landing is so 21st century.
My real opinion is that in 3305 (according to Elite story of course) everything should be completely automatic. If we have technology to reach the galactic core in the same time I can go to Paris from my home we can for sure land on any planet without any risk at all.
Of course my proposal is to enhance the gameplay and add some activities where the player skill can make the difference.
 
I would expect 90% of atmospheres to be unapproachable, as we'd be flying into mud and acid storms, buffeted by winds in atmospheres so thick our thrusters would be inadequate for steering. And in some places, the transitions from gas to liquid to solids would be so gradual that there would be nowhere to set down.

Instead we could get atmospheric flight within an envelope of conditions. As long the transition to surface is within that envelope, we would be able to land. Otherwise we would just be able to fly in the atmosphere and maybe set down on high points. We might be able to get shielding/thruster combos that could handle different conditions. And of course the Moray Starboat would be able to deal with many liquid states that other ships can't.

I'd hope that by 3305 we would have realised that automating everything is not the answer, and to stay challenged we humans don't mind having to steer a bit and react to conditions. With the option of having assisted flight available, of course.

:D S
 
Are atmospherics even still planned? It's been ages since I heard anything about them.

A while ago, I was surprised to see that Star Citizen already has those, even if not fully polished.
Like the gravity at the border of the atmosphere already kicking in at 100% while it's 0% on the other side of the border, and it IS a binary border.
But there's already a rough drag model in place which makes ships in atmosphere differently fast which also scales with density.
As I have a rather aerodynamic ship, I didn't have issues, but I heard from others which have ships that are as aero as a steamroller, that those are a pita to land and leave some planets. And the storms look amazing.

Made me wonder if ED will ever catch up on that point.
And yes I know SC has currently 1 solar system compared to ED's Milky Way.
But SC has a handful of atmospheric planets you can explore fully, while ED has none that I know of.
 
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