The Planet Lander is the basic vehicle for exploration of planetary surfaces. It is able to gather minerals, biological data and devices and engage in combat. Up to ten of them can be carried by The Flagship, they hold up to 12 crew (the equivalent of a crew of two Precursors) and cost 500 RU each to build.
Before any upgrades are added by the Melnorme, they can carry 50 tons of cargo before returning to the ship. They are also equipped with a stun beam in order to subdue hostile lifeforms on a planet so they can be researched to gain biological data. A lander consumes roughly two units of fuel for every g of surface gravity when dispatched to a planet's surface. Landers are not equipped for drilling operations, being forced to gather whatever quantity of minerals can be readily found on the planet's surface.
Exploring alien planets can be dangerous. The planet lander can come across four types of planetary hazards that can kill the lander's crew: earthquakes, lightning, hotspots, and hostile alien lifeforms. Should the whole lander crew be killed by hazards, the vehicle will be destroyed, and all of its cargo will be irretrievably lost.
Earthquakes can appear on planets with a tectonics class of 3 or higher. They appear as expanding concentric circles roughly the size of the lander at the maximum, and are relatively easy to avoid. The damage they inflict can range from minor to severe depending on how long the lander stays within an area affected by the earthquake.
Lightning can appear on planets with a weather class of 3 or higher. Although lightning only inflicts minor damage, it cannot be dodged, which makes it highly dangerous to an unprotected lander.
Hotspots can appear on planets with a surface temperature of 100°C or higher. Hotspots appear as bursts of fire that travel along a short distance before disappearing. They inflict severe damage if touched.
Some alien lifeforms are dangerous. More information on them can be found here.
The planet landers can also be upgraded. Technological advances bought from the Melnorme for this include double cargo capacity (this does not affect biodata capacity), greater rate of stun beam fire, greater speed, protection from alien life attacks, heat shielding, lightning resistance, and earthquake shock protection. When the lander is protected from a particular hazard, the chance of a crew member dying when the lander is hit by that hazard is reduced to 5%, compared to the 100% chance for an unprotected lander.