Atmospheric Science

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Atmospheric Science refers to the observation and processing of gases in enclosed spaces. Atmospheric Technicians (aka atmos techs) are concerned with maintaining a safe atmosphere in the station by:

  1. Setting up the station's gas distribution system, or "distro," to supply the station with breathable air.
  2. Using handheld gas analyzers and fixed air alarm systems to monitor levels of both safe and hazardous gases.
  3. Utilizing holofan projectors and inflatable walls to cordon off hull breaches or gas leaks.
  4. Moving and placing portable scrubbers to manually filter the air in case of escaped gases.

The Basics of Atmos

The premise of Atmospherics (or, Atmos) is simple: You want a station that is pressurized and with breathable air, absent of any toxins. The two primary gases used to accomplish that goal are Nitrogen (N2) and Oxygen (O2). Oxygen is the breathable gas in air, and is respirated by Humans, Onis, Felinids, and Arachnes to form Carbon Dioxide (CO2) as a waste gas. Nitrogen, on the other hand, is an inert gas that is safe to breathe, but it doesn’t offer any use in air beyond increasing pressure.

Pressure (measured in kPa) is determined by the amount of gas (in mols) in an area, and is directly related to temperature (in Kelvin or degrees Celsius); so as temperature goes up, so does the pressure. A safe pressure on the station is roughly around 80 to 140 kPa, and a safe temperature is around 20 degrees Celsius. Temperature in the station can be lower, but it isn’t ideal, and it can only safely happen if the station has adequate access to warm clothing.


Toxic gases can bring about many forms of harm to the station, and are dangerous if left unattended because of the tendency of passengers to blindly open doors. These gases are noticeable at high concentrations, as they appear as clouds or smoke. All of these gases are filtered by the scrubber network, and they can be sucked up by portable scrubbers considerably faster. To contain the spread of these gases, you’ll want to use holofan projectors, inflatable walls/doors, and if need be, you can weld some airlocks closed to prevent entry (just don’t ignite the gas).

Miasma - This all-too-common gas is produced by decay, usually from corpses in pressurized environments. It appears as a dark purple cloud. At low concentrations (<2%) it is harmless, but it can build up over time if sources aren’t removed, and at higher concentrations it can damage humans and other races, as well as causing transmissible diseases. This gas will be the bulk of what goes through every waste network.

Plasma - This gas is usually only found in the plasma chamber in the Atmos room, but is also found in canisters. It appears as a pink—purple shimmering cloud. It can also be aerosolized by putting solid plasma in a grinder and activating it.

Frezon - An industrial coolant. It causes a euphoric feeling when breathed, but it is still physically harmful. It appears as a bluish smoke. Also has a dramatic influence on the temperature. Puts out fires immediately, though ironically, a leak of it is almost worse.

Tritium - A highly reactive and radioactive gas. It appears as a green, shimmering cloud. Highly toxic, but can be sold for a large amount of money at Cargo.

Nitrous Oxide (N2O) - An invisible gas that is used in medicine on a small scale for its anesthetic applications. On a larger scale it will make everyone in a room pass out nearly instantly.

Understanding the Distribution Area

The distribution area (or, Distro) refers to the area of Atmos that contains the origin point of the air and waste networks, as well as the chambers for storing and processing the gases.

A distro’s purpose is to:

  1. Supply oxygen and nitrogen to a gas mixer which supplies air to the station.
  2. Filter waste and toxic gases from the station.
  3. Store gases in a secure area where Atmos Techs are able to work with them.

The distro is able to do all of these things because of the system of pipes, pumps, filters, and mixers it is outfitted with. Every distro does NOT require placing/altering pipes for it to function properly!

Basic atmos distro.png

Pictured above is an example of a basic atmos distro.

  • The red line represents the waste network. This brings gas from the station through a series of filters (in this case, Oxygen and Nitrogen) and dumps everything else into space.
  • The blue line represents the air network. This supplies the air that the station breathes. It is connected to the pink line (N2), and the cyan line (O2). The way these two gases are mixed is configurable by interacting with the gas mixer.

Setting it up

By default (for whatever reason) pumps, mixers, and filters start every round set to ‘off.’ This isn’t a big deal, until part of the station gets spaced, then when the room doesn’t fill back up with air, people realize “nobody set up Atmos!”

The Air Line (Atmos Output)

The first step in setting up the distro’s air line. The way to do that is to determine which line goes to the air vents, or, which line is the color blue. Once you’ve identified that line, follow the pipes back to the Oxygen and Nitrogen chambers. Out of the chambers, there are two lines of pipes, one that goes into the chamber (from a gas filter) and one that comes out of the chamber. Follow the one that leads out of the chambers and you’ll find they eventually lead to a gas mixer. Ensure the mixer sets an appropriate amount of O2 and N2 (20/80 O2/N2 is sufficient) and set it to ON. Also make sure that if the oxygen and nitrogen pipes have any pumps on them that lead to the mixer to turn them on too. Finally, make sure the mixer is reaching the vents. Some stations, like Angle, have a pump after the mixer to regulate pressure. Make sure that is turned on too. After that, take a gas analyzer and click on the pipes to ensure there’s flow. If there’s flow downstream of the gas mixer, then congratulations, you set up the most important part of Atmos!

The Waste Line (Atmos Input)

After setting up the Air line (which should always be done first), the waste line should be set up to make sure the station doesn’t die to one gas leak (or at least, to make sure it doesn’t get stinky).

Find the line with a bunch of filters on it. Many stations have this line colored red or orange, but just know that every scrubber on the station leads back to this line. All that you need to do (technically speaking) is ensure that all waste gas ends up at the end of the waste network (which ends in space), so to do that, follow the line and ensure that any filter in its way is turned ON. You should also identify what chamber the filter leads to and set the filter to that gas, as any of that gas that is in the waste network gets recycled back into the distro. Many distro systems will also have unmarked or unspecific chambers, which you could set to anything. Once the filters are set up and you have ensured that waste gas is either filtered out or ends up in space, congratulations, you have done the final necessary task of most distro systems!

Maintaining Gas Levels

The primary two chambers, Nitrogen and Oxygen, as well as the chamber for Plasma will often have an immovable object called a gas miner in them that provides infinite gas. These miners are an important source of gases, and can only function if they are in an enclosed room. If the oxygen or nitrogen chambers are opened, it must be sealed as soon as possible before the station is starved of air.

Not every station has every gas miner though; Angle in particular has no O2 gas miner and must have its O2 levels occasionally monitored to ensure the station has sufficient air.

Atmospheric Technicians have means to add gases directly to the waste network, as well as using a device known as the gas recycler to process CO2 into oxygen. As long as the waste network’s filters are set up, at least for oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide, a technician can simply attach a gas canister to the beginning of the waste network via a connector port and it will automatically sort to the chambers. On Angle, this is especially important to maintain oxygen levels, and on other stations, you could store multiple canisters worth of a gas in one chamber by filtering that gas into an empty chamber.

The Gas Recycler

A gas recycler takes a bit of instruction to use, and the basic premise is as follows:

  • A mix of gases that is at least 300 degrees Celsius and pressurized no less than 3000 kPa enters through the north side of the recycler, and the mix exits out the south side, with some of the carbon dioxide converted to oxygen and some of the nitrous oxide converted to nitrogen.

A recycler loop must be heated to at least 300 degrees Celsius (~575 Kelvin), after that, pressure must be at least 3000 kPa. Pressure can be added by increasing the presence of other gases (not necessarily CO2 or N2O) into the recycler loop’s pipes. Nitrogen is usually abundant and inert, so it is a good contender. Pressure in the pipes will lower as gases leave the recycler loop, so a pump is often placed at the end to regulate pressure.

Note that gases that leave the recycler will remain heated, so it’s important to regulate temperature if the O2 is going to be used in station air. A freezer can be placed after the recycler loop, or after the breathable air mixer to ensure the station doesn’t burn alive.

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