I have been looking for something like this since Odyssey changed the way biological signals worked, so I decided to figure it out and make a comprehensive reference for other Commanders.
With the advent of planetary EVA technology, the field of exobiology has become accessible to Commanders everywhere. Whether you're in it for the profit or looking to learn more about various worlds, there are a few things you need to know.
Part 0: Outfitting
Use a decent exploration ship with an SRV. Two is obviously better, but only one is necessary. Typical exploration ships (in increasing size) would include the Hauler, Asp Explorer, Diamondback Explorer, Krait Phantom, Orca, and Anaconda. Others can be used; I only recommend a 30+ ly jump range, 50 if you can manage it.
It is imperative that you get yourself an Artemis suit for exobiology. Pick one up at the nearest starport. You will not need any weapons, but you can bring some if you want. You will be going out in your SRV, so you shouldn't need any batteries or medpaks, but you can bring some if you want to stay prepared. You can optionally bring a Maverick suit as well if you want to salvage any wrecks (you are more than likely to find at least one in your voyages).
Part I: Finding Biology
Using the Codex
The easiest way to find various biology is by using the codex. Select it in the internal (right-hand) panel, then navigate to 'Discoveries' > 'Biological and Geological' > 'Biological'. Select whatever type of life you want to investigate, then select a variation. Each type of biologically will typically have 2-3 variants with different colors or slightly different shapes. Check the icon in the top left corner to see if it is found in 'vacuum' or on 'surface' (key in bottom right). Each variant listed will have a 'reported' system linked. Select that system to open it in the Galaxy Map and plot a route to it. I typically check each variant to find the closest, but that is up to your preference.
Finding the Body
Once you reach the system listed in the Codex, you will need to determine which body the biology is actually on. It is impossible to tell which planets have the specific life you are looking for without scanning each with the Detailed Surface Scanner, but fortunately you can narrow down the search. Planets with biology on them must 1) be landable and 2) support life. Viable planets in the system map have a gradient blue ring around them. Landable planets will have a solid blue ring around them, with a settlement indicator if there are settlements on the body. Select bodies that have both rings and look under 'planetary info' (third from the top on the right). Surface signals will be listed near the bottom; look for Biological.
While you are looking at the body in the System Map, it is also a good idea to check the gravity level of the planet. If it has 1 g or more, then be very careful landing. It too easy to crash on approach. Regardless of the gravity levels, it is always a good idea to put full pips to shields on approach.
Scanning the Planet
At each viable body, use the Detailed Surface Scanner to find surface signals (make sure you're in Analysis Mode!). Once the body has been scanned, sections of it will light up blue. At the center of the screen, there will be a signal filter. Scroll through it until you find the type of life you are looking for. The scanner will now show areas of the planet where that type of life can be found.
Part II: Collecting Data
Once you have a body with the signals you are looking for, drop into one of the illuminated areas. Note that once you drop from orbital cruise, these will disappear, so make sure you have a good idea of where you are going before initiating glide. Find a place to land your ship, then get out with your SRV. From this point, simply drive around until you find biological life. Scan it with your SRV's composition scanner first. This will give you a Codex Voucher worth 25k-50k credits for each you discover. It's not much by itself, but it adds up. Equip your Artemis suit and disembark your SRV. Select the suit's tool (the bio scanner) and use its secondary fire to scan for viable biological specimens.
Three samples are required before data from a certain species can be saved for submission. Once you scan one species, you cannot scan another until you have three samples of the same species. If you do scan another type of life, you lose your progress on the first. Specimens of the same species must be found in different locations. Specimens in close proximity to each other do not have sufficient genetic diversity to collect accurate data from.
If a specimen lights up green, then you can take a sample from it. If it lights up blue, then you have either already collected data on that species, or you have already scanned another member of that species in close proximity to that specimen. If a specimen lights up purple, then you can scan it, but you have already begun collecting data on a different species and would lose the data collected by scanning that specimen.
Continue using your SRV to find viable samples until you have collected three of the same species with sufficient biodiversity to complete a claimable data package. The canister of your bioscanner will then be automatically emptied to allow other species to be scanned.
Before you leave
Before leaving a planet, I typically like to make sure that I have documented all forms of life on it. Return to orbital cruise and briefly check the Detailed Surface Scanner after you get above drop height (typically 25km). If you only came for one specific species, make sure you found that. If you want to be more thorough, scroll through the various signal sources and ensure that you have found one of each type. They will often overlap, so you may not need to go to a different spot on the planet, but sometimes you will need to drop in again to find everything.
Part III: Selling your data
Universal Cartographics & Codex Vouchers
Return either to your home starport or just the nearest port. The only difference it makes is the faction you gain reputation with (selling data increases rep). As soon as you land, select 'Enter Hangar'. You can do this later, but selecting it immediately will save you some time. As you descend, enter 'Starport Services' Sell your exploration data to Universal Cartographics (you should have at least some) and check your local authority contact to claim your Codex Vouchers. Once you have done this, you can disembark into the starport.
Once outside your ship, take the elevator to the station concourse. Find the Vista Genomics representative in the station. Note that not all starports may have one of these. As long as it is a major starport rather than an outpost, you should be fine. Interact with the Vista Genomics representative and sell your data.
See you in the black, Commanders
CMDR Jaybird_3326 o7
- Solid mineral spheres, lattice mineral spheres, metallic crystals, collared pods, and gourd molluscs cannot be found on planetary surfaces
- Anemones are found on planetary surfaces, but every specimen I was able to find was growing on a planet not safe for EVA. These, like the vacuum organisms, can only be scanned for codex vouchers, not sold to Vista Genomics.
If you think I missed anything, please comment and tell me!