Planet Evaluation for Colonization

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The primary focus for many players is to develop a colony which is suitable to their needs. Due to the randomness of planet types, finding suitable locations to build a colony can be challenging. This page will give you basic information to efficiently find useful locations for colonization.

These recommendations are presented by Prolapser, Second Colonial President and discoverer of close to 10,000 systems.


What is a colony?

A colony is a player-owned location outside of the inner-9 systems (Apollo, Vulcan, etc.). Players can purchase a deed for the right to construct a colony on the surface of a planet or moon. Since there is no existing land mass (outside of the inner-9 systems) that has oxygen in the atmosphere, the only method for colonization is to build domes in a colony on the surface of a planet or moon. A deed can support thousands of domes.

The pictures below show a circular deed of the same colony. Each black dot on the surface of the planet is a dome. Domes can be placed anywhere in the deed in any formation. Each colony deed is approximately 1100 tiles radius. One building can be placed per tile. Yes, they are gigantic! Each dome (dot) in the pictures below can hold about 100 buildings.

Deed with domes Deed with domes - details

Gathering resources is the primary reason for building colonies. Using the show mb.samplemapoverlay command of a probed planet, resource distribution is represented as colored rectangles. The picture below is the same colony as the pictures above.

Deed with domes using command: show mb.samplemapoverlay

Surface Structure

For a colony to support domes, the surface of the planet or moon needs to be relatively flat. Mountainous and jagged surface will not support domes. Rolling hills are usually okay. Domes can be constructed in a liquid (under water or any large body of fluid), but currently it is not useful and not recommended. The best location for a colony is on a flat surface with no liquid.

These are examples of bad colony locations:

Jagged moon Jagged planet


For first-time explorers, it is highly recommended that the location of their new colony is constructed on a planet or a moon with an atmosphere, since colonies need gasses for domes to support human colonists. To determine if a planet or moon has an atmosphere, fly to View Range and look at the edges. If there is a "halo" effect around the edge, or if the planet has fluid (Nitrogen oceans rarely have an atmosphere), then the planet is likely to have an atmosphere. Not all atmospheric planets and moons have the halo effect, so some investigation may be needed.

Halo around planet signifies an atmosphere Atmosphere around a fluid planet

Domes can gather gasses from the surrounding atmosphere and split components into useful gasses. The best distribution of gasses is an atmosphere that contains the elements Nitrogen (N), Oxygen (O), and Hydrogen (H) available in some form.

For example: CH4 can be split into Carbon and Hydrogen gas. NH3 can be split into Nitrogen and Hydrogen gas. H2O can be split into Hydrogen and Oxygen gas. CO2 can be split into Carbon and Oxygen gas.

Carbon (C) gas is currently useless and is vented from domes. Hydrogen, Nitrogen, and Oxygen can be contained as a gas in a dome or as a commodity resource which can be stored in a warehouse. Domes can combine Hydrogen and Oxygen to make H2O (water) and can also be stored in a warehouse.

Each dome needs at least 400,000 tons of gasses in its atmosphere. A class 12 ship can only carry 20,000 tons, so a colony with a planetary atmosphere is almost critical.

Atmosphere Analysis

To see the gas contents of an atmosphere, fly down to the planet surface. You can take a gas reading by using the computer command: show rs.composition . If you receive the message "error, no medium", it means you are above the atmosphere or the planet does not have an atmosphere.

In the example below, this atmosphere reading demonstrates a good balance of needed gasses.

Gas composition of an atmosphere

CH4 can be split for Hydrogen (for hyperdrive fuel), NH3 can be split for Nitrogen gas for domes and Hydrogen, and CO2 can be split for Oxygen for domes. There is even natural Nitrogen in the atmosphere. Any reading below 0.02 is non-existent on the planet or too little to be useful. Since domes need some water and there is none in the atmosphere, the dome can combine Oxygen and Hydrogen to form H2O.


To learn how to obtain soil samples, see Probing Tutorial.

Silicon and Geo

The two most important factors for evaluating a soil sample is the silicon percentage and the Geology rating (Geo). Your objective is to find a low silicon percentage and a high Geo score.

Silicon is not a useful resource and cannot be harvested from planets or moons. The higher the percentage of silicon, the lesser percentage of useful resources is available to your colony. The Geology (Geo) of the planet signifies the concentrations of the different resources. A Geo score of 1 (the lowest score) means the resources are distributed evenly throughout the planet, which is undesirable for a colony. A Geo score of 5 (the highest score) means that resources are concentrated in pockets and useful for colonies to harvest resources. You can see these pockets, represented as colored rectangles, when you use Core Sampling Probes to scan a planet and type into the computer: show mb.samplemapoverlay

Below are examples of soil analysis and sample maps of different planets with varying Geo scores and silicon percentages. The brighter/lighter the rectangle, the better resource concentrations.

Geo 5 planet with low silicon (no fertility)

Soil analysis of Geo 5 planet with no fertility Geo 5 planet with no fertility

Geo 5 planet with moderate silicon (all fertility)

Soil analysis of Geo 5 planet with all fertility Geo 5 planet with all fertility

Geo 3 planet with low silicon (one fertility)

Soil analysis of Geo 3 planet with one fertility Geo 3 planet with one fertility

Geo 5 planet with 92% silicon

Soil analysis of Geo 5 planet with 92% silicon Geo 5 planet with 92% silicon

Geo 1 planet with 72% iron (low silicon)

Soil analysis of Geo 1 planet with 72% iron (low silicon) Geo 1 planet with 72% iron (low silicon)

Other Considerations

To make a star system more appealing, you may want to consider the following factors in picking your new colony.


If the gravity is less than 2.0, the planet can be terraformed to produce a breathable atmosphere (future game mechanics) so no domes are required for a colony. If you do want to settle on the planet for future terraforming, make sure you choose a deed location that is not below sea level (sea level is 0 altitude). To know if your location is below sea level, land on the planet where you want to colonize. If you see a negative altitude in the bottom-right corner of your screen (in brackets), then that location will be under water if you terraform. If you see no negative altitude, then that location is suitable for a colony even after terraforming. Radar altitude is the center of your ship relative to the ground, not sea level. Note: You can only know the sea level if an atmosphere currently exists.

Below Sea Level

3525 meters below sea level altitude reading

Above Sea Level

Above sea level (no altitude reading present)

Waervyn's Terraforming Dangers Video

Light Year Distance from a Repair Facility

If your colony is farther than 100 light years from a repair facility, your Hyderdrive may become damaged and cannot be used again without a repair facility. In this case, if you want to move star systems, you would need to use 'Emergency Jump!' in the Map to return to Ceres in the inner-9 systems to repair. A recent feature added to the game is Outer Star Bases (OSB) which has a repair facility. An OSB can be constructed for 0 Stellar Credits over a colony (the colony still costs Stellar Credits to purchase and maintain).

Asteroid Belts

A slow-moving, quick-respawning asteroid belt with a high concentration of Columbite (Niobium, Iron, Silicon), Angrite (Tin, Iron, Titanium, Magnesium, Aluminium, Silicon), and Autunite (Uranium, Silicon) asteroids would be highly desirable in a star system. The presence of Columbite, Angrite, or Autunite may also spawn rare Promethicite asteroids (Promethium, Uranium, Silicon). A well-balanced colony and this type of asteroid belt will give you access to all the mineral resources currently available in the game.

Gas Giants

In future game updates, there may be the need to scoop unique gasses which can only be found in gas giants. A few multi-colored gas giants might be useful to have in a star system.


These recommendations are based on building a well-rounded colony. These values can be subjective depending on your colony objectives.


Any resources below these recommended numbers essentially does not exist on the planet in any useful capacity.

- "Smooth" land surface. Some hilly terrain can be colonized.

- Atmosphere: 5% of any gasses which contain Nitrogen (N) and Oxygen (O).

- Mineral Distribution: 7% for each useful mineral. Silicon should not exceed 55%.

- Mineral Concentration: Geo 2


- Smooth land surface.

- Atmosphere: At least 10% of any gasses which contain Nitrogen (N), Oxygen (O), and Hydrogen (H).

- Mineral Distribution: At least 12% for each mineral except Silicon.

- Mineral Concentration: Geo 4 or higher.

- At least one Fertile food type (Vegetable, Fruit, Animal, or Grain).

- Under 100 light years distance from a repair facility.

The Perfect Earth (rumoured to exist in this game universe)

- Earth-like planet with oceans of water (H2O). Smooth land surface covering >60% of the planet.

- Atmosphere: 10% H2O, 24% O, 64% N, 2% CO2

- Mineral Distribution: 25% Carbon, 25% Aluminium, 25% Iron, 25% Titanium.

- Mineral Concentration: Geo 5

- All Fertile food types (Vegetable, Fruit, Animal, Grain).

- A slow-moving, quick-respawning asteroid belt with a high concentration of Columbine, Angrite, and Autunite asteroids.


You cannot place a deed closer than 200 kilometres to the edge of an existing deed.


Waervyn's Settling on Ultima Video

Waervyn's Domes in Ultima Video

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