You can scoop Hydrogen from the atmosphere of a gas giant, if you have Fuel Scoop installed on your ship.
Fuel Scoop activates automatically at the following conditions:
- There's free space in you cargo hold (collected Hydrogen is stored there).
- Atmosphere pressure is high enough (depends on gas giant's characteristics).
- Ship speed is over 1 km/s.
- Ship should face in the direction you are flying. A bit of deviation to direction is allowed, but when the angle is too high, the Fuel Scoop can't collect Hydrogen.
Every time you collect some Hydrogen you can see a message about this at the scanner screen.
Some useful hints:
- Make sure that you ship's thrust is enough to fly away from this planet. Check the planets gravity before you fly to it. If gravity is too high compared to ship's thrust, it makes hard or even impossible to fly away from this planet. Choose gas giants with lower gravity.
- Descending too deep into the atmoshpere is dangerous. Most ships are rated for about 11 atm external pressure, so be aware.
- Always be aware of your horizontal and vertical speed. Don't let yourself fall too fast, or you might get into a situation where you can't recover from.
- Don't just drop into the atmosphere on a steep trajectory, but try just to skim it's upper layers. The orbital map is quite useful for this, since it shows your current orbit.
- Try to keep your descent rate (next to the altitude display) under control.
- Try to gain as much horizontal speed as possible during escape, while you maintain a good positive vertical speed. The horizontal speed is what gets you into orbit. (a gas giant can easily require 40km/s for a stable low orbit)
- Be aware that your acceleration decreases as you fill up your cargo hold (mass increases). Some of the ships with large cargo holds can experience quite dramatic loss of acceleration because of this.
- Be careful when flying too low over the planet surface:
- When speed and pressure are too high, you can overheat your hull. An Atmospheric Shield can somewhat alleviate this problem.
- You can crash to the planet when you fly near surface. (And avoid too high time acceleration settings.)
- It is easy to fly to the planet if you give an order to autopilot: "Enter low orbit around planet". With this order autopilot fly to the planet as near as possible. When your ship orbited at the planet, switch off autopilot and fly lower to atmosphere.
- To choose a planet you can open a map ('F2' key), next press 'F7' key, next click the planet you need to select it with rectangle. Next return to main screen and press 'F4' key and select "Autopilot: Enter low orbit around <planet_name>" order.