Discovering Surfaces (Zones)
Space Exploration map is randomly generated with each game. This includes a small cluster of Stars, each with their own Planets and Moons known as the Interstellar Map. The amount of available locations is finite, about 600 surfaces.
Starting a new game will automatically discover the starting planet Nauvis and its star, Calidus orbit. Space Exploration has many surfaces outside of Nauvis. In order to discover, view and reach them the player must first build a satellite rocket silo and launch a navigation satellite in order to discover more locations within the Calidus System. Further research technologies can be unlocked to discover more type of locations.
Discovering a new planet, moon or star will also automatically discover the orbit of these surfaces. Likewise arrival upon orbits of moons or planets will discover their ground counterpart. Asteroid belts and asteroid fields do not have orbits to discover. The process of discovery is random, however in order to discover moons, the parent planet of those moons must be discovered first (except for space capsule navigation). Likewise in order to discover planets, the parent star must be discovered first.
All discovered location are available in Universe Explorer. They can be viewed after launching the first navigation satellite.
Navigation satellites can be launched from satellite rocket silos like in vanilla Factorio, or from a space probe rocket silo (with a Space Probe Rocket) to discover surfaces. Navigation satellites can only discover surfaces within the star system they were launched from. The very first navigation satellite launched will not discover a new surface but unlock the navigation satellite uplink as well a weapons cache. Upon discovering all surfaces within a star system, additional navigation satellite launches will discover new stars. Once all stars are discovered, you will receive a message: the Navigation Satellite did not find anything new.
This does not mean there aren't anymore celestial bodies to discover. In order to discover more places via navigation satellite, they must be launched from inside a different star system. It is recommended that the player use the cheaper space probe rocket in a space probe rocket silo.
Zone Discovery (research)
A technological research that will yield random discovery of a planet, moon, star or asteroid belt anywhere on the Interstellar Map. Locations can only be discovered after their parent body is discovered. The cost will increase by 1 Astronomic Science Pack 1 per research level.
Targeted Zone Discovery (research)
A technological research that will yield specific discovery of a planet, moon or asteroid belt anywhere on the Interstellar Map if a specific preference was selected in Zone Discovery tab of the Informatron. With out preference the result will be random, similar to Zone Discovery(research). The cost will increase by 1 Astronomic Science Pack 1 and 1 Astronomic Science Pack 2 per research level.
Deep Space Zone Discovery (research)
A technological research that will yield random discovery of a surface in deep space. This includes asteroid fields, and this research is the only way to discover them. The cost will increase by 10 Astronomic Science Pack 1, 10 Astronomic Science Pack 2 and 10 Astronomic Science Pack 3 per research level.
The space capsule can move the player from one surface to another neighboring one, by using the Space Capsule Navigation mechanics (in Destination select: "Undiscovered Location"). This allows player to land on surfaces that have not been discovered. Successful arrival will result in automatic discovery of these locations. Additionally, using space capsule navigation can result in a Navigation Error. This can make player stranded on random ground surfaces of a star system, or if traveling interstellar using emergency burn between star systems, can result in being stranded in random ground surface of completely different star system.