Developing Duna - Part 5

Expanding Exploration

At the end of episode 4, Adly and Kelby were exploring to the East in Dune Buggy, and they had just arrived at the landing site of Lander Probe 2 to gather its SCIENCE and say hello to the Goo. But that Probe still had most of its propellant remaining (it required about one quarter of its fuel to de-orbit and land), so while Kelby dug around in the dirt getting samples, Adly repacked the parachutes of the Probe so it could be hopped downrange.

Adly: "Dune Buggy to Duna Base. The Lander Probe is repacked and ready to hop. Kelby would like it sent to the midlands area straight east of us, if it can go that far."
Thompbles: "I'll see what I can do for you."

In the real world, of course, NASA would insist that their astronauts move back to a very safe distance before launching a rocket...but kerbals like an up-close view of the fun:

Below, the Map view (with biomes visible) shows that the hop almost went too long...but the landing point moved back a bit due to aerodynamic drag.

Ooops...I forgot to add an action group to the lander probes for deploying the parachutes, so I had to do that with right-clicks.

A little fuel was held in reserve for the final braking under the parachutes, and the probe landed safely. But did it drop into the Midlands, or overshoot into the Lowlands? Well...oddly enough, when the second Goo canister was activated, it reported that the probe was in the HIGHLANDS biome...that can't be right. The Midlands should be next to the Lowlands.

Adly and Kelby started the 27.1 km drive to the lander probe's new location. But when they drove up onto a small mountain in their path, they went from Lowland biome (the blue) directly into Highland biome (the cyan area on the map). So something is definitely wrong here.

When the Dune Buggy drove into the green area on the map, the program reported that they were in the Midlands biome. When Hellou and Emilynn explored to the north of Duna Base, the green Midlands came first, and then the cyan Highlands. So it appears that somebody has mislabeled the biomes in the area Adly and Kelby were exploring. SQUAD, you might want to fix this.

The guys reached the lander probe for the second time without incident (they were also reporting the location as Highlands when it should be Midlands), and gathered more SCIENCE from it.

Continuing eastward, the drop in elevation allowed the rover to get up to speeds near 40 m/s, allowing it to catch some air as it went over bumps...but nothing the rover couldn't handle. When they reached the next Lowland area that stretched on for hundreds of kilometers ahead, Kelby named it Adly Planitia after his fellow explorer.

I'm sure the guys stopped often so that Kelby could explore the surface in detail.

Adly: "So, are you finding anything interesting in the big stretch of sand dunes you named after me?"
Kelby: "It's a lot like what we found back at the Duna Base area. Under the sand is mudstone and sandstone. These planitia are dried up seabeds."
Adly: "Any fish fossils?"
Kelby: "No...but, there is an outcrop of what looks like shale over here. Drive the rover over this way so I can use the lab module's core sampler."

Heading ever further east, Kelby analyzed his rock samples in the lab/hab cabin while Adly drove (but at a more sedate pace that you see me driving the rover along in the GIF below)...

Kelby: "Well, we have hit the jackpot."
Adly: "There's gold in them thar hills?"
Kelby: "No. Better. That ice from the bottom of the last core's kethane clathrate."
Adly: "Tasty?"
Kelby: "No, but it's one-stop shopping for your rocket propellant needs. You can release the simple hydrokarbon that's trapped in the ice crystal structure by melting the ice, and liquify the it for use as a propellant. And then you can electrolyze the water to get LOX. And the Hydrogen can be used to make even more kethane using a process invented by Sabatier Kerman."
Adly: "Very nice. I do get all the mineral rights for this basin because you named it after me...right?"

When I last drove over this area of Duna using the unmanned Fido KED rover to circumnavigate Duna (back when we first got rover wheels in version 0.19), the terrain here was perfectly flat...and I could let the rover drive along unattended by placing a weight to constantly press down the "i" key (I remap the rover controls to the i,j,k,l keys). After the makeover Duna received, this area is now rolling sand dunes...but I could still let the rover drive along unattended (this time with the help of MechJeb's Rover Autopilot to maintain the speed) without worrying that it would go too fast and wipe out. So, rather than send Adly and Kelby back to base, I decided to send them all the way across Adly Planitia to see how the far edge looked (previously it was an impressively steep wall).

Over in the eastern part of Adly Planitia (see map below), the boys camped out for a couple days to watch Ike set and rise. Ike is tidally locked to Duna (and vice versa), but because of its slightly elliptical orbit, Ike shifts back and forth about 8 degrees during the Duna day. In the image below, you can see the sun coming out from behind Ike just before sunset...and then during the night, Ike dipped below the horizon...and then Ike rose back into the sky after dawn.

The steep incline that used to mark the eastern edge of Adly Planitia is long gone. Now the terrain just gradually gets hillier as you head eastward up out of the Lowlands. At least the transition from Lowlands to Midlands to Highlands happens in the correct order here. Unexpected note: If you have the display of biomes turned on in Map view, then Ike shows up in Duna's sky all covered in colorful biome colors (so I had to keep turning off biome display when I wanted to take a regular picture with Ike in the sky).

Driving up into the Midlands allowed our heros to see Ike again (it had slipped below the horizon from the lower elevations at the eastern edge of Adly Planitia). Also, the bumpier terrain made it easier to catch some air when driving fast (but the increasing slope made it harder to drive fast).

Eventually, the terrain got even steeper as the Fido rover transitioned into the Highlands. The slope was steep enough to slow the Fido down to a crawl...but not so steep that it was necessary to drive back and forth in a switchback path. A rover equipped with the grippier wheels would zoom right up the slope, of course.

Adly: "Dune Buggy calling Duna Base."
Thompbles: "This is Duna Base. How goes your uphill climb?"
Adly: "We're doing fine. Kelby has some different kinds of rocks to look at, apparently. He's going on and on about 'igneous this' and 'plutonic that'. He's happy as a clam."
Thompbles: "Glad to hear it. Are you going to start driving back?"
Adly: "Well, that's why I'm calling. Rather than driving back along that same route, how about we bump up the schedule for setting up the East base? I'm sure Kelby will be happy to mess around in these highlands while you drop in the ships, and then we can hop to there from here."
Thompbles: "Sounds fine to me. I'll get working on delivering your equipment right away...but it's going to take a few days waiting for the orbit alignments."

The map view below (switching between regular and biome view) shows the location of the Fido rover in the highlands.


East base will be an exploration outpost set up in Fido Canyon, named for the landing spot of the unmanned Fido KED rover that long ago circumnavigated Duna. Setting up the base involved sending in a Lander (so the guys have somewhere more comfortable to live than the Fido rover), and a Fuel Station and Fuel Fido (to re-fuel ships). Those assets were sitting up in polar orbit (so that they could be dropped anywhere on Duna).

The first step was to separate the Duna Fido 3 rover from the BANT 6 ship. This rover would be left in polar orbit so it can be sent down to the surface as needed in the future. Removing the rover freed up the Duna Lander 3 vehicle, which was separated and moved away from the BANT under remote control.

Then there was the wait until the landing site moved under the Lander's polar orbit. This would be a lot less boring if SQUAD would allow faster time warps in lower orbits. As is, I switched to one of the comsats and ran time forward, then switched back to the Lander as the landing site was nearing its orbital plane. Then came the retro fire, entry (no flames), and parachute assisted landing. Sorry...the alignment of the orbits required landings shortly before sunset, so the pictures aren't as good as one might like.

The Lander touched down about 850 meters from the old Fido KED and its lander. OK...comfy living facilities were in place!

The next asset came from the BANT 4 & 5 ship, which is in a higher polar orbit. The idea was that the higher polar orbit (with its lower orbital velocity) would require a smaller plane shift burn to put the payload on target...but it also means that the orbital period is longer, so the chances are lower that you'll get a close alignment as the target site passes below the orbit (since the ship may not be close to the retro fire position when the base is passing under its orbit). But the alignments weren't bad. Below, we see the Fuel Station 2 separating from the double-BANT.

After waiting for the orbital plane to align with the target site, the four Rockomax 24-77 engines performed the retro burn and small plane shift needed to target the Fuel Station in to the site (you can see that the trajectory is leading the site so that Duna's rotation will carry the site under the trajectory just as the ship lands).

For the first time in all my Duna aerocapturing, aerobraking, and entry maneuvers for this mission, we get to see entry flames as the Fuel Station falls in from its higher orbit. The eight parachutes and the four 24-77 engines landed the heavy tank onto the surface of Duna. The Fuel Station landed a little over a kilometer from Lander 3.

The next asset dropped was Fuel Fido 2 to work in conjunction with the Fuel Station. Below we see the Fuel Fido separating from the double-BANT. (If you forgot what 'BANT' stands for, it's "Big Advanced Nuclear Tug"...just so you don't have to go back and look.) Then there was another wait for the landing site to align with the orbit. Each of these landings had to be made a day apart because only one ship could be taken care of during each landing window. The place where the landing site passes under the orbit on the other side of the planet is in darkness, so I didn't want to use that location...because the 'automatic landing radar' that determines when to fire the landing rockets consists of my eyeballs watching the screen, and most of these payloads don't have landing lights (to save on part count), so landing in darkness is contraindicated.

The little FL-T100 tank on top of the Fuel Fido is there as a spacer in the payload stack...but the vehicle was sent down with that tank full so that after retro burn, the fuel from the FL-T100 tank could be moved to replace some of the fuel used for the retro burn. Then the small tank was jettisoned (to smash onto the surface).

The six parachutes and two Rockomax 48-7S engines on the Fuel Fido set the vehicle down 528 meters from the Fuel Station, a little over a kilometer from Lander 3, and about 1.5 kilometers from the old Fido KED. OK! The infrastructure for Fido Canyon base was in place and ready for the exploration crew.


It was time to hop the Dune Buggy rover over to Fido Canyon. When fully fueled, the Duna Fido rovers can hop 11 degrees around Duna using half their fuel (counting the little extra it takes to soft-land under the parachutes). So, a Duna Fido could hop 11 degrees from base, and later hop 11 degrees back to base, and be refueled. But a fully-fueled Duna Fido can also reach Duna if you want to use over half the fuel, it can be hopped to ANY point on Duna from any starting point. And if you have fuel for the rover waiting at the new landing site, the rover can later hop elsewhere. Part of reason for setting up the outpost bases is to position fuel reserves around Duna for making hops.

The hop from the Highlands east of Aldy Planitia to the Fido Canyon base required 68.6% of the Dune Buggy's fuel. The hop trajectory (shown below) took about 13 minutes from boost to landing.

Below, the Dune Buggy heading in toward Fido Canyon. The landing used parachutes and the rover's two 48-7S engines. The boys look a tad worried there, but that's just because they were coming in about 5 km short. But, hey, it's a rover; it can drive the rest of the way.

Adly repacked the Dune Buggy's parachutes, and then they headed over to the other vehicles, with Kelby riding on top to get a better view of the terrain.

Kelby: "Do you want to go directly to the Lander?"
Adly: "The old Fido KED is on the way...let's stop a check that out first."
Kelby: "Sounds good."

Adly: "Hey, the old rover looks like it's in pretty good shape. I thought it would be buried in dust."
Kelby: "Apparently the winds are occasionally strong enough to blow the dust off of it. I'll fly over and check out the rover and its lander."

Kelby: "This old lander still has lots of fuel on board. Jeb's Junkyard makes some really great tanks. Ah...and almost a full RCS tank."
Adly: "I have no need for the monopropellant, but remind me to drive the Fuel Fido over later and steal the fuel."
Kelby: "Our rover looks kind of stubby compared the old KED. I'll check out the KED next."
Adly: "Yeah, the longer wheel base would be nice. I guess that was more important when they had to be sure the rover was stable enough to make it all the way around Duna and back to its starting point."
Kelby: "Hey...there's something in the cockpit.'s a big bag of stuff strapped into the pilot's seat. I guess it was to represent the weight of a kerbal. Let me get it unbuckled. Ah, ha! Snacks and survival gear."
Adly: "Bring it on over."
Kelby: "OK. The KED's readouts are all green...I'll drive it over to the Lander and see how it performs."

Several minutes later, the boys had both of the rovers over by the Duna Lander 3, and they were able to move in, stretch out, and party away on ancient discontinued snack items.

The next day, Kelby wanted to dig around in the dirt, but Adly convinced him drive over to the Fuel Fido first so that Adly could check it out. All systems on the Fuel Fido were fine, so Adly used it to refuel the Dune Buggy.

Then, while Kelby took the Dune Buggy to go hunting for interesting rocks, Adly drove the Fuel Fido over to the the Fuel Station to fill up the Fuel Fido's tanks. Then he drove the Fuel Fido over to Lander 3 to top off the Lander's tanks.

After that, Adly drove the Fuel Fido over to the old Fido KED lander and grabbed its remaining fuel and oxidizer. Waste not, want not.

Later, back at Lander 3:

Adly: "Did you have fun poking the rocks?"
Kelby: "Yes. The center part of this valley is full of sediments, but there appear to be some very interesting outcrops of rock up on hillsides, possibly even some karbonate rocks."
Adly: "These karbonate rocks are good, are they?"
Kelby: "Well, one theory for why Duna has such a thin atmosphere is because of karbonate rock formation back when the planet still had liquid water. So finding a lot of those rocks could verify that theory. But I don't want to go blindly looking around on the I'd like to call in one of the DunaDogs to make some scanning flights."
Adly: "OK. I'll get Thompbles on the horn and requisition one of the birds."


Back at Duna Base, everybody was getting into the spirit of the 'Early Deployment' of the exploration outposts. Partly this was due to the possibility of more exciting terrain to explore (the Duna Base site was chosen to be a safe equatorial location...but it's rather geologically unexciting). But partly it was because the only pulses at pi gigahertz that had been picked up from possible alien artifacts were coming from the hemisphere to the West of Duna Base. The pulses were weak, and only picked up about once a day by the low polar orbit it was going to take a while to get a good fix on any of them.

Emilynn said she'd prefer to be the DunaDog pilot for the soon-to-be-set-up West base, so it was Aldner who was sent East to Fido Canyon. He got ready to leave the next morning.

Aldner: "Hey there, Little Buddy. I'm off to seek my fortune in the mysterious East."
Nelemy: "Um...Dude. How do I know you are really you?"
Aldner: "What?"
Nelemy: "How do I know you aren't some kind of alien projection trying to trick me?"
Aldner: "Well...I don't keep telling you how many questions you have left each time you ask a silly question."
Nelemy: "Oh! Right! That's smart thinking, Dude."
Aldner: "That's why I get paid the big bucks. Well, gotta go. You take care of everyone around here while I'm gone."
Nelemy: "Oh, I will. Say hi to the Fido Canyon Goo for me, Dude."

The thing about flying an ion-powered plane is you have to always keep in mind the sun's position in the sky. And if you want to make a LONG flight, you have to consider where the sun will be during the whole flight. This is especially true if you are flying East, against the direction of the sun's motion in the sky, since this will shorten the amount of daylight available to you.

Duna Base, for reasons of lowland flatness and cosmic significance, is located at 42 degrees East longitude. Fido Canyon base is located 111 degrees east of there at 153°E longitude. So Aldner would need to takeoff when the sun was fairly low in the east from Duna Base, and hopefully land before the sun gets too low in the west from Fido Canyon. Aldner's flight north showed that the DunaDog will operate, if somewhat touch-and-go, with the sun 28 degrees above the horizon ahead of the plane. So he decided to take off from main base with the sun up 30 degrees above the east horizon:

The initial climb out from Duna Base put the solar panels of the Aragorn at zero sun exposure, so Aldner made that climb on rocket power alone (no ion engines) until he passed 6,300 meters, two minutes into the flight. Then he switched over to ion power and pitched down.

Aldner: "The four ion engines are good...but they're sucking down the battery charge too fast, even at 43% sun exposure. I'm cutting back to half throttle."
Emilynn: "Roger, Buzz. Keep talking...I'm taking notes for my flight."
Aldner: "Hmm...If the battery charge drops too fast, I can pitch down a little to get enough sun exposure to stop that...but then I'm losing altitude. Pitch up to decrease the drop...but then the battery charge drops. OK...looks like I can keep things fairly steady at around forty-six'm still slowly losing altitude."
Emilynn: "Remember, you have a few bumps in the terrain out in front of you at thirty-two hundred meters."
Aldner: "Yeah. But I have a lock on lander probe 2 to show me where those are."
Emilynn: "Hellou wants you to verify that the scanners are all on and functioning."
Aldner: "They are. Doesn't she trust her software hack that automatically turns them on whenever the DunaDog is airborne?"

* 10 minutes into the flight *
Aldner: "I'm getting a better sun angle, so it's easier to keep a charge on the batteries. I'm bumping the throttle up to two-thirds."

* 20 minutes into the flight *
Aldner: "This is better. I'm at full throttle, and I can still keep climbing...if I pitch down occasionally to charge the batteries."

* 28 minutes into the flight *
Aldner: "OK! Home free. Full throttle, and I can keep the batteries fully charged even when climbing slowly. Looks like the excitement is over now. Maybe I should take a nap."
Emilynn: "I can fly your plane remotely if you need some shut eye."
Aldner: "Thanks, Hawk...but we better not. I don't want Thompbles docking my flight pay for slacking off."

So the flight settled down into the tedious stretch. Below we can see Aldner at about the halfway point, with comfortably over half of his Xenon left (and 70% of his LFO), so there weren't any worries about making it to his target. You might be a bit concerned that the sun will be pretty low in the west when he gets over to Fido Canyon...but remember that the sun will be behind him, giving excellent sun exposure on the top of his wings when the plane is in its normal pitched-up no wories.

Aldner: "I've passed out of Adly Planitia and I'm over the highlands. The ground is a lot closer and more interesting here."

Aldner: "The ground is getting a bit TOO interesting up ahead. What's the highest elevations along my path again?"
Thompbles: "Assuming you're on course, there should be a crater rim with elevations of 6.6 kilometers."
Aldner: "Ah, yes. I think I'll use some rocket boost here."

Aldner: "Hey, that is some impressive terrain. Nice crater wall. Ooops...I think I overdid the boost a bit. Rocket engine off."
Thompbles: "How is your LFO level?"
Aldner: "At sixty-six percent. I'm heading up through a cloud bank. Yeah, I goosed her a bit much...I'm over nine thousand meters altitude. But it looks like the plane isn't going to be able to cruise at this altitude...dropping back down again."

When Aldner approached Fido Valley, he had to climb again (more gradually, just using the ion engines) to above 6,500 meters to clear the western wall of the valley. The sunlight angle on the valley floor was fairly low, but the sun exposure on the solar cells was still excellent (since the top of the wings were angled toward the sun), so the batteries were staying fully charged.

Aldner: "This is Aragorn Airlines flight zero zero two calling Fido Canyon tower. Requesting clearence for landing on runway zero nine."
Adly: "Hey there, Aldner. We haven't actually constructed the runway yet, but you have permission to long as it's not on top of us."
Aldner: "Roger, Fido Canyon tower. I'll see what I can manage."

Aldner cut the ion engines 19 km from the outpost (you'll notice that the throttle setting is still at 100% -- the ion engines were just toggled off). After passing over the Lander, the Aragorn was still at 4,600 meters (having only recently cleared the wall of the valley), so Aldner pitched up and toggled on the belly engine. When the speed dropped to 100 m/s, he deployed the chutes (which were reefed at that altitude), and descended.

Aldner: "Annnnd... touchdown! Just to make you guys feel safe, I landed thirteen kilometers away. Yeah...I meant to do that. Let's see... Flight time: One hour and five minutes. Thirty-one percent of my Xenon remaining, and fifty-seven percent of my LFO."
Adly: "Not bad. Drive on over and we'll sell you some fuel."

Aldner put the Aragorn into rover mode and drove over to the other ships. Then before doing anything else, he repacked the DunaDog's parachutes.

Adly docked the Fuel Fido to the rear of the Aragorn, and then dragged it over to the Fuel Station so that the Xenon and Liquid Fuel/Oxidizer tanks could be filled up. Then they returned to the Lander and had a party in honor of the new Fido Canyon base, treating Aldner to some suspiciously old snacks.

Below: A picture of the Fido Canyon base the next day when the lighting was better.


That worked out well. So it was time to do it again...only out West. With some differences. Step one: Drop in Fuel Station 3 from the polar-orbiting double-BANT.

Again, the target location was a canyon (for the easy access to interesting terrain) with a low elevation (to make landing easier) at about 60°W longitude. This puts it 102 degrees of longitude away from the main Duna Base. Hellou chose the name for the site: Barsoom Canyon.

The landing had to be made late in the day at the landing site, but at least this gave a nice view of Ike low over the eastern horizon.

Every Fuel Station needs a handy Fuel Fido, so that was dropped in from polar orbit the next evening. Again, the small FL-T100 tank on the top of the rover was mainly there as a spacer in the payload stack, but after retro burn the fuel from that tank was transferred to the rover's tanks, and then the small tank was jettisoned and allowed to to head in for a crash landing.

The Fuel Fido touched down 882 meters from the Fuel Station.

But now for something a little different. Hopping the Duna Lander 2 hab/lab and the Duna Fido rover Jessica over to Barsoom Canyon would require most of the fuel available in the Barsoom Valley Fuel Station to refuel them. This would be a waste of the limited fuel assets on the surface, considering that there are much larger supplies of fuel orbit! So the hopping of those vehicles were made via Duna Space Station.

Nelemy Kerman was assigned the job of moving the Jessica to Barsoom Canyon. The Jessica had its fuel tanks topped off earlier, since it will require a full fuel load to make it up to the station (with a safety margin). Nelemy flew over to the rover, got inside, checked the systems, and boosted for SPAAAAAAAAACE!

The Jessica made it to orbit with 12% of its fuel remaining...plenty to do a rendezvous with the Station.

Docking with the Space Station was routine. The rover only has a Junior docking port, so Nelemy docked it to a Junior port on one of the BANTs. There are also Junior docking ports on the large tanks that the BANTs will leave behind when they depart from the Station...but the Junior port out on the end of the BANT was handiest here. Refueling the Jessica's two FL-T200 and four FL-T100 tanks was a drop in the bucket compared to the fuel reserves available on the Station.

It was Kurt's job to pilot the Duna Lander 2 up to the Space Station with Hellou onboard. The tanks of this Lander had NOT been topped off on the surface. The Duna Landers have plenty of fuel to deorbit and land on the surface of Duna, and then re-boost back to orbit with a big safety margin. Topping off its tanks would have meant just carrying extra fuel back up into space (and wasting fuel in the process of lifting it).

Kurt: "You all strapped in down there, Hellou?"
Hellou: "Yes, Kurt. Let's go visit exciting places!"
Kurt: "Well, first we have to go visit Nelemy up at the Space Station...but then we'll go to new places."

Rendezvous and docking with the Space Station went as planned. They would be spending a few days on the Station while Kurt made some modifications to the radio hardware so that it could be better used to track down transmissions at pi gigahertz.

Nelemy: "Hey, Dudes! Welcome to the Space Station."
Hellou: "Hi, Nelemy. What have you been doing up here?"
Nelemy: "Checking through the snack inventory. Why don't we have any proper yellow mush onboard? It's all kind of greenish-yellow this mission. I like the nice yellow stuff we had on Laythe."
Hellou: "Oh...I think they had to add some supplements to it for health reasons."

The Lander made it to the Station with its tanks over 27% full. Kurt took care of refueling the Lander. (I know that the Lander is a bit overkill in its capacity, but when I designed it I wanted it to have a good chance of still working after the threatened version 1.0 engine nerfings.)

When it came time to return to Duna, the landings were able to be made in full daylight and close together (since the Station is in an equatorial orbit). Below, Nelemy separated the Jessica rover and landed it at Barsoom Canyon, pretty close to the Fuel Station there.

On the next orbit, Kurt and Hellou separated Duna Lander 2 from the Space Station and landed it at Barsoom Canyon.

Below: Kurt's view out of the Lander window after touchdown.

After landing, Kurt climbed out to repack the parachutes of the Lander. You can also see how much fuel was used for retro fire and landing (less than 8% of the total amount of LFO on board). Kurt also reminded Nelemy to repack the parachutes on his rover.


The final member of the Barsoom Canyon exploration team was Emilynn Kerman. She would fly out in her DunaDog, which she named Amelia after Amelia Kerman, one of the first female aviators.

Flying west from Duna Base has a complicating factor that Aldner's flight east did not: Ike. It is necessary to wait until AFTER the daily solar eclipse before starting out (because a solar eclipse happening when your ion-powered plane is in the air is a BAD thing)...but if you wait too long, you'll have illumination problems. So Emilynn was sitting in her plane, ready to go as soon as the sun came out from behind Ike.

Below, Emilynn taking off on rocket power, heading west.

At 4,700 meters, she switched from rocket power to the ion engines, then started leveling off. The batteries were draining a bit fast, so she used another 10-second burst of rocket power to help the plane stay level at 5,300 meters. The sun angle must have been better for this flight than for Aldner's, because Emilynn didn't need to reduce the throttle on the ion engines at any point.

Most of Emilynn's flight west was over lowlands and midlands with a maximum elevation of 3,600 meters. After passing over the midlands, the view of a canyon running down from the northeast into the lowlands was interesting.

Emilynn: "Amelia calling Barsoom Base. I'm approaching the highlands that border the north side of your canyon."
Hellou: "Be careful, Emi. Some of that terrain is at six-point-three kilometers."
Emilynn: "Roger, Chickadee. I've been gaining altitude slowly to be sure I don't try to fly through the really hard stuff, but I'll get low enough to get a good look at it. The scanners are all running."
Hellou: "Thank you."

Emilynn: "There's a peak off to my left, but hills ahead have a more gentle rise. My navicomp has a lock on your Lander's longwave beacon."

Emilynn: "OK, I'm passing over the highest part of the ridge. Radar altimeter reads two hundred thirty. Hmmm...Looks like a lot of red stuff...big surprise. Hopefully the recordings will tell you more than that. I should be landing in ten minutes."
Kurt: "Roger, Hawk. We'll roll out the red carpet for you."
Emilynn: "Thankie, Jaymack. Not that I'll be able to see it."

Emilynn passed over into the Barsoom Valley and cut the ion engines 28 kilometers away from the base. There were some higher mountains to the north that looked interesting, but there wasn't a lot of time for sightseeing just then: She needed to lose altitude. Aldner had a long west-to-east shot when landing at Fido Canyon, but Emilynn could not afford to overshoot by as far as he did because Barsoom Canyon is narrower and runs northwest-southeast.

At an altitude of just under 1,500 meters AGL, still about 1.8 km from the base site, Emilynn deployed the parachutes.

Emilynn overshot the base by 5 km and touched down on a moderate slope. The DunaDog started rolling backwards, but she used a short blast from the rear rocket engine to stop its motion and applied the brakes.

Emilynn: "The Amelia has landed safely, boys and girls. Flight time fifty-six minutes. Xenon remaining...a little under thirty-four percent. Liquid fuel remaining...over sixty-four percent. I think it might be more efficient to use up more liquid fuel early on so that the ions are more efficient pushing a lighter plane."
Kurt: "Yes...but then you'd be really sad if you came across some big mountains in front of you and didn't have the fuel to spare to boost over them."
Emilynn: "True. I've got her in rover mode and I'm heading over to you. Say, you have a nice view of Ike from here."
Kurt: "We knew you were coming, so we put up decorations."

Ten minutes later, Emilynn rolled the Amelia into camp.

Emilynn: "Nice digs you've got here. Where's the Fuel Fido? Amelia is a might thirsty."
Kurt: "We left it over where it landed so you'd have fewer targets to hit, just in case you decided to drop in for a pinpoint landing. I'm remotely driving it over here now. But we can wait to fuel up your plane until tomorrow...Nelemy has your welcome party all ready."
Emilynn: "Well, that's great...since I'm a might thirsty myself."

So while the kerbals are having the biggest party ever thrown in Barsoom Canyon, let's have a look at their location on the map view below. The Barsoom Base ship icons are the only icons visible on this side of Duna. All of the others (the main Duna Base, with Thompbles left minding the store alone for now), the Fido Canyon base (147° away if you continue west...I wonder if a DunaDog could fly that far?), and the ancient FidoPup RCS rover.