Odyssey Biological and Geological Guide

I have seen so many questions asked again and again in this forum I thought I would put together a guide on what you can expect and how you can find it.

Biology
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What: Odyssey contains a wide variety of biology that can be sampled. For you to take samples, you will need a Artemis suit and a Detailed Surface Scanner. An SRV is also very handy, as it can be a long walk between genetically diverse samples for some species.

The biology ranges from bacterial colonies to full size trees and some strange looking fungi in between. They are categorised under a number of headings, each category has a number of genera and species, each species has a number of colour variations:

Example:
Frutexa Flabeleum - Green
Category: Shrub
Genus: Frutexa
Species: Flabeleum
Colour: Green
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Certain Categories of Biological Life prefer certain geological features. The shrub tends to love mountainous areas and can be hard to find. Others love the plains. Certain Species appear to enjoy specific atmospheres. For example, the Fonticular genus appears only to exist on worlds with an inert gas (Helium, Neon, Argon) atmosphere, while another appears to only exist on planets or moons with a Methane atmosphere.
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The colour variant of the species appears to be linked to the type of star the planet is orbiting!

Certain species appear to possibly be linked to particular galactic regions, so you will not find everything if you stick to the Inner Orion Spur. Having said that, having passed through the Norma Expanse, I have found many candidate planets with little or no life. Others too appear to have experienced that as well. I'm too poor to do a full galactic survey, but if anyone has a fleet carrier and is interesting in collaboration, I am happy to add!

I suspect there are more factors, such as the composition of the planets themselves, but more science is yet to be done!

Where: Odyssey biologicals only exist on tenuous atmosphere planets (e.i. those on which you can land but have a pressure of anything from 0.1 Atmospheres to under 0.01 Atmospheres (shows as 0.00 in the FSS scan detail!) The FSS scan will tell you how many Biological signals are present. Anything with only 1 biological signal will likely (but not exclusively) be Bacterial Colonies. Stratum has also been noted as being the solitary signal on some worlds. Now do not get these signals confused with other types of Pre-Odyssey Signals. They do not appear as items you can target. Instead, you must approach the planet and use the DSS to scan it. This will present you with a crude blue overlay with (if there is more than one signal) a filter option. For biological signals, this blue overlay indicates the geological areas that the category of species is likely to be found.
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You now need to select the type of plant you are interested in and head down to the surface. Let's take the shrub mentioned above. It loves mountains. When you start to head down, eyeball where the blue overlay is, then switch modes. Look for mountains in those areas. You may have to switch between the two modes a couple of times to get a good track on a likely location. land close to, or on the mountains and jump out in your SRV. You may have to search for a few minutes, you might spot the plants straight away. If you are having no luck, return to the ship, fly up to Supercruise and have another gander for another mountain range covered by the blue overlay.

The shrub is a difficult one to find. Most other plant life likes plains - which is handy for the SRV!

How do I find plants once on the ground? Use Mk1 eyeball. This is the only way. Bacterial Colonies are the hardest to find. It helps if the sun is not low in the sky, as that makes shadows on the ground. If you are having trouble, try looking for materials in your wave scanner, and then you may stumble across plants along the way.

How do I benefit from this: Vista Genomics will pay you for any complete samples you submit to them. In some cases, the payout is quite low, in others, it can be in the millions for one sample. You get a bonus for handing in the first species fully sampled on each planet. A spreadsheet detailing the payout for each species can be found in a link at the end of this post.

To get a sample, you must use the sample tool. Find your first plant, equip the tool, press and hold the fire button, let go only after the sample is complete. Now you need to travel a little distance to another plant of the same time some distance away. That distance varies. Tubus plants (they look like palm trees) you have to go nearly a kilometre away for the next sample. Tussock can be around 300m. (Exact distances for specific species can be found in the Codex!) You will need to collect 3 samples of the same plant in order for the analysis to be completed and the data stored in your suit. After the third sample, the genetic material you collected is then destroyed and you can move onto the next species. If you sample a different species whilst you have collected another, that first sample is destroyed.

If you do not have an Artemis suit, you can still scan the plant with the composition scanner for a 2,500cr reward voucher.
Legacy Biological Signals
The legacy biologicals (brain trees around Guardian sites, other types in systems close to Nebula) still exist in Odyssey, but instead of being a targetable POI, they are also scattered across the surface now in the same way. They produce a higher composition scanner award, and may still be sampled by the sampling tool. You still need three samples.

You can usually find these biologicals by checking your wave scanner, as they spawn materials. However there is currently a bug (Update 6) where these materials are not spawning! So it's Mark 1 eyeball for now. Fortunately, they are usually easily spotted.
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These appear on non-atmospheric worlds. It is yet to be confirmed that they appear on atmospheric worlds, but the search is ongoing. When you scan the world it will indicate (for example) one signal, but in the case of these legacy biologicals, it has been confirmed that one signal can include more than one species/variation.
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The legacy biologicals still spawn materials and so can be tracked down using the wave scanner. Legacy biologicals are linked to certain phenomena such as Nebula or Guardian Sites. It is also possibly true that there are different species in different Galactic Regions!
Geology
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What: Geological features in Odyssey consist of the following features: Lava Vents, Fumaroles, Vents and Geysers. Lava Vents are easily the most interesting of these - and also the most dangerous. If you go near one while it is active, it will overheat you. Before you can die from overheating you will die from loss of health. If you have your shield up, it will take down your shield in seconds. You will die, your SRV will die (shield and structural damage), and your ship will also heat up, although ship shields do appear to be impervious! To find these you need a Detailed Surface Scanner and an SRV.

Where: Any landable planet with Volcanism, with or without a tenuous atmosphere. (Update six has added more variety!) You can find any combination of lava vents, fumaroles, vents, and geysers. Likely hot worlds will get you 2 or 3 of lava vents, fumaroles and vents. Icy worlds will usually have vents and geysers. Do not mistake the word signals to mean pre-Odyssey signals. You will not be able to target these from orbit.

Approach the planet and use your DSS to do a full surface scan. The blue overlay will usually not be much different for each filter, but there are worlds where one type of feature is less prevalent than others. Head down to the surface. Switch to combat mode to observe the surface on the way down. If you observe pimple like features on the surface, head for these.
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(Excuse the texture quality - this was pre update 1 and I didn't wait for the texture to resolve!)
These pimples are dormant volcanoes. In and around them you will the features you are looking for. If you can't see these pimples, do not worry. Look for patches of rough ground. The geological features tend to be in these areas, but not exclusively.
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How do I find Geological Features once on the ground? This is easier than with biological features. Almost every feature has materials, so you can find them using the wave scanner. They give off a particular signal that is twice the size of the Mesosiderite signal, so you can easily distinguish between outcrops, metallic meteorites and Geo mats.
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The signal on the far right of the scanner is an outcrop, the middle and left, the feature mats.

There is a new anti-relog feature in that materials will not spawn if you relog!

How do I benefit from this: Pretty photos, and in some cases, death! You can (after U5) scan features with the composition scanner for a nominal 2,500cr reward. The materials found at geological features vary according to the rarity of minerals on the planet. If the mineral you want is 0.9% of the composition, expect to be very lucky to find it around geological features. The type of outgrowth now indicates the grade of material it will spawn as it did before in Horizons.

(There was a bug pre-update 7 https://forums.frontier.co.uk/threads/do-the-shard-sites-exist-in-edo.588250/ - Update 7 Patch Notes:
  • A fix has been implemented around mineral distribution from fumarole objects:
    • Bit more on this, so there's now improved consistency/rate for when finding particular grades of materials on planetary surfaces.
Your best bet for materials is still metallic meteorites which provide a different wave scanner signal. Otherwise these features are good for photographs. Geysers in particular are useful for the sport of skydiving, with CMDRs reporting heights of up to 3km with rough (and just barely survivable) landings. (Shields help with landings!)

When you land, it is likely that features are dormant. This does not mean safe. They are on a cycle. It is undetermined yet what dictates that cycle. Hang around them long enough and they will become active. Just don't go AFK whilst parked next to a dormant lava vent, or you may return to a rebuy screen (from personal experience!)
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A geyser trying to imitate the rings of the parent planet!
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A rare appearance of the Lava Creature of Atraxes 4!

Oh - and make sure you have the sound on. Volcanically active planets have an underlying feel of being alive!

Other sources of more detailed information
There are other threads that you may be interested in in the Explorer's Forum and externally:


This thread has a spreadsheet attached that includes the payout for handing in a sample!

Cannon's Detailed Codex

The Deep Space Network's Exobiological Flora Guide

Final Words
If you want to get rich quickly, this is not the way to do it! It is possible to head out into the black and get killed by stepping on a Geyser and being thrown 3k into the sky. It is possible to burn to death on a Lava Spout. You can fry at sunrise on some planets if you are not careful. Exploring is dangerous.

If you enjoy travelling, seeing the sights, taking pretty photos and making stories out of them, and getting some reward at the end is a bonus, then Exploration is for you. Otherwise, you may find yourself getting burnt out and disillusioned! The important thing is to enjoy yourself! and it's certainly what I am doing!

o7 CMDRs
 
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Tracking down biologicals
Shrubs

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Shrubs (Frutexa, for example) love rough areas such as mountains. If the blue overlay covers a plain and some mountains, the shrubs will be found in or just around the mountains, and not on the plain. Another good location for shrubs are mesas. These are easier on the SRV than mountains.
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Bacterial Colonies
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These colonies appear flat on the surface, and some merge well with the surface, making them difficult to spot. They invariably are found on flat ground with very little rubble. They can be found in crater rims and sometimes within as well. They mix well with other plant life. The best places to hunt for them are places where the star is high in the sky, as a low star can create shadows that make you think they are bacteria but are not.

One method of hunting these is to fly at around 80 to 130m from the surface slowly (nose down like you are flying a helicopter) look for colour and shape variations on the planet surface texture, and use your composition scanner to verify. The composition scanner will light up ready to scan if it is. [Note: Emphasis on the slow, especially if you have texture loading issues!] Since update 6 the changes to the remote camera have made it easier to use to spot bacteria that would have otherwise been missed.
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Yes we can! This Bacterium Volu (Gold) lives on the ice with an Oxygen atmosphere, under a Class M/L Binary, at 99-193k and 0.07 Atmospheres.

Electricae
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Appears exclusively on noble gas worlds that are very cold. This planet had a range of 44-66k. They appear in ones and twos scattered across any ground type. At night, they are lit up blue so can be easily spotted from a distance.
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Stratum
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Stratum look as if most of it is under ground, popping up to appear just above ground level. They are usually easy to spot. They appear on flat ground, but also among rough ground where the bumps in the ground can mask the Stratum. However, the Stratum tends to be shinier than the ground around it, making it stand out at the right angle.
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There is a bug where some find Stratum Techtonicas cannot be sampled with the genetic scanner. There appears to be no work-around at present. If you are having the same problem, please contribute to the issue here: https://issues.frontierstore.net/issue-detail/33419

Fumerola
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This plant integrates with the Fumarole such that the Fumarole and the plant become one. Smooth Terrain, flat or hilly. There are no materials on these fumaroles, so if you can see it but there's nothing on the wave scanner, it's Fumerola. These don't seem to cycle like normal Fumaroles.

Concha
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Concha love rough terrain and trenches. You see ones and twos on top, but if you find a nearby trench, they are sure to be waiting for you in the dark in vast numbers.
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Tussock
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Grasses of various shapes. Found on flat or smooth slopes. Difficult to spot from the air. They have a low distance for genetic diversity, so it's possible to collect more than one sample from some of the larger fields. When you drive over them, they bend to your SRV's wheels and you can hear them brushing underneath.

Some have stalks and flowers. Beware: These stalks are much tougher than the grasses and are able to stop your SRV in its tracks.
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Other species:

Fungoida - Depends on the species I think. Mushroom type like smooth mountain tops, specifically on rich brown soil. The other species tend to be on rough terrain/valleys
Osseous - flat or rough terrain, generally easy to find

How to use pulse mode on the Genetic Sampler
Your genetic scanner's alternate trigger is a pulse mode that can help you discover harder to find flora, especially among rougher landscape. The range is limited though. triggering the alt on your scanner sends out a pulse that highlights biological life in your HUD. You can trigger this with or without a sample in the container. You get two types of return:
Green
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A green return indicates a plant you have not sampled (if you do not have an initial sample) or a genetically diverse sample that you can add to your sample.
Blue
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A blue return is either a complete sample that you have already stored in your suit data, or, in the case of an ongoing sample, one that is not sufficiently genetically diverse to add to what you have in the sample container.

Needless to say, if there is no flora within range of the pulse, you will not see anything.


Good Hunting!

For Science
Anyone available to help out?

There are a couple of things undiscovered that may need additional science(tm) to work out. Methods to track down particular types of plants, regions they are likely to be found in! Please do contribute!

Additional Organics in the Genome Tab: Before update 6, when you scan a planet, it says there are (for example) 4 categories of Geological Signal. When you look at the Planet's Genome tab, there are (sometimes) more than 4 organics to be discovered! This has been confirmed as a bug and fixed in Update 6! These two should now correlate!

Legacy biological, however, are confirmed to have more than one species per planet! This is not a bug and works as expected!
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o7
 
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Missed this. Great guide, bookmarked. Thanks!

Haven't even donned my Artemis suit yet... I am not sure how engaging I'll find it since I am still in the bubble. Sneakin' and lootin' are better than biologin' for me ATM :)
 
I would add that bacterial colonies are mostly very difficult to find from the ground. Best method is to fly at around 80 to 130m from the surface slowly (nose down like you are flying a helicopter) look for colour and shape variations on the planet surface texture, and use your composition scanner to verify . Once you find the first, land, scan and return to the ship and repeat. Once you have found the first one you should have an idea what you’re looking for. Bacteria are mostly found on flat plains.
 
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I would add that bacterial colonies are mostly very difficult to find from the ground. Best method is to fly at around 80 to 130m from the surface slowly (nose down like you are flying a helicopter) look for colour and shape variations on the planet surface texture, and use your composition scanner to verify . Once you find the first, land, scan and return to the ship and repeat. Once you have found the first one you should have an idea what you’re looking for. Bacteria are mostly found on flat plains.
Added! Thank you!
 
Great guide, thanks for taking the time to put it together.
I’ve been discovering bios from day one and must say this is a very accurate and informative guide! STICKY THIS MODS!
I get the feeling there's a "sticky as little as possible" guideline going on at the moment. There have been at least 3-4 threads that warrant it to help players find information quickly and all we have are the screenshot thread (not even sure that warrants a sticky, if I'm honest; no offense, just isn't something I think needs to be front and centre) and the dev explanation of the premium equipment process. Whilst useful, it told us stuff we mostly already worked out in two threads, neither of which got stickied.

I'm guessing @Alec Turner will eventually get their excelent "best of" thread done at some point and maybe that'll get stickied. I'd suggest he adds this to his list if he hasn't already.
 
Just want to add an 'um, actually' to your description. Specifically:

Example:
Frutexa Flabeleum - Green
Category: Shrub
Species: Frutexa
Variation: Flabeleum

Colour: Green

Really, the highlighted lines should read
Genus: Frutexa, Species: flabeleum
Whether this is a FDev oversight or not I'm not sure.
 
It took me a while until I learned that certain plants only grow in certain biomes, regardless of what the blue map may indicate. Looking for bacteria in a plain with a lot off´rubble will be rather fruitless. But look in an area with a single solid colour or at least large areas of a single, smooth colour, you will find them relatively easy. Some plants don't have as much a restrictive biome fixation, like grass and mushrooms, so they are much more common and easily discovered.

Also, while using the good old Eyeball Mk I, in a ship, one needs to be careful to leave the game some time near the surface and standing still to load all the terrain details or you will be left wondering why you don't find anything at all.
 
Great guide, thanks for taking the time to put it together.

I get the feeling there's a "sticky as little as possible" guideline going on at the moment. There have been at least 3-4 threads that warrant it to help players find information quickly and all we have are the screenshot thread (not even sure that warrants a sticky, if I'm honest; no offense, just isn't something I think needs to be front and centre) and the dev explanation of the premium equipment process. Whilst useful, it told us stuff we mostly already worked out in two threads, neither of which got stickied.

I'm guessing @Alec Turner will eventually get their excelent "best of" thread done at some point and maybe that'll get stickied. I'd suggest he adds this to his list if he hasn't already.
Cheers for the mention ... this is indeed an awesome guide. I'll link it into my "Best of Forum" thread later this afternoon.
 
I've become quite competent at flying a ship upside down 20m above the surface. Also, pointing the nose down and using the up thruster to mimic a helicopter is a skill I now possess. Maybe I should just buy a ship with a glass floor. Great guide.
 
I've become quite competent at flying a ship upside down 20m above the surface. Also, pointing the nose down and using the up thruster to mimic a helicopter is a skill I now possess. Maybe I should just buy a ship with a glass floor. Great guide.
Just use the external camera, gives you good oversight over surroundings while flying.
 
I have an update on the issue you mentioned with bio signals and unidentified organics not always matching up.

Near Barnard's Loop I found an icy moon with a 100% Methane atmosphere that only had 1 bio signal but 2 unidentified organics, which made it very easily to investigate this particular issue in isolation. The heatmap filter on my DSS indicated that the only available filter was for Bacteria Colonies, and when I switched between that filter and 'All' nothing seemed to change. I did NOT find a second organic no matter how hard I looked. The one organic I did find was Bacterium Bullaris - Red.

I spent about an hour orbiting the planet looking for different types of terrain to search. I ended up searching both smooth and rocky plains, canyons and the flat tops of mesas (which were particularly breathtaking, by the way), and I even took into consideration that the moon was tidally locked and searched the opposite side of the planet, taking into consideration potential factors like amount of shade and elevation. I also stopped and used my composition scanner on every bacteria colony I found, no matter how similar it appeared to the first organic, and scanned it to see if it was maybe a different type of colony or a different color of Bullaris. At the end of the day, either the second organic isn't there, or its EXTREMELY difficult to find.

No clue if the extra organics are supposed to be there or not, but if they are then as far as I can tell, they aren't showing up. I hope this helps narrow down what exactly is happening with the system info discrepancy.
 
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