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LV-426: Full Travel Guide To Acheron Locations

By | Published May 20, 2024

LV-426, also known as Acheron, is one of three moons orbiting the gas giant Calpamos in the Zeta Reticuli system, 39 light years from Earth. Despite its inhospitable conditions, Acheron has become a significant location due to its connection with the Xenomorph species and the events surrounding the ill-fated Weyland-Yutani expeditions. This guide explores the key locations on LV-426, both from the movies and the Expanded Universe.

The Third Moon Of Calpamos

The planet Calpamos with its three moons, one being LV-426

Acheron is the third moon of Calpamos, a gas giant with a notable ring system, located in the binary Zeta Reticuli system. Its equatorial diameter is just 1200 km (although sometimes referred to as 12000 km), and its surface gravity is 0.86 that of Earth's. The moon's surface is composed of dense materials, with a crust made of aluminum silicates and evidence of past volcanic activity. Despite its small size and harsh conditions, Acheron has drawn significant attention due to the mysterious and dangerous events that have unfolded there. LV-426 is near LV-223, the planetoid seen in Prometheus, which is possibly another one of the three moons of Calpamos.

A View From LV-426 Orbit

A view from LV-426 Orbit

From orbit, LV-426 presents a bleak, rocky surface under a perpetually dark sky. The thick atmosphere of nitrogen and carbon dioxide, with traces of methane and ammonia, contributes to its dim, twilight appearance during the day and complete darkness at night. The lack of visible stars through the dense atmosphere adds to the moon's eerie and isolated ambiance. Before terraforming, the planetoid's surface was brownish-orange, but after colonization the entire surface was covered with a white cloud cover.

Surface Of The Planetoid

The rocky surface of LV-426 as seen in Alien

The surface of Acheron is barren and rugged, with no indigenous life forms. It is characterized by strong winds and frequent storms, although the moon's small size prevents the formation of large-scale weather systems. The storms decrease visibility to close to zero, with stilt and rock particles flying around at high speeds. The landscape is marked by basalt, rhyolite, and microgranite lava flows, remnants of the moon's volcanic past.

The Derelict Ship

The Derelict ship from Alien

One of the most infamous sites on Acheron is the derelict ship, discovered by the crew of the USCSS Nostromo in the year 2122 in the Alien timeline. The ship, of Engineer origin, contained thousands of Xenomorph eggs and the fossilized remains of its pilot. The discovery of this ship set off a chain of events leading to multiple Xenomorph outbreaks and significant human casualties. It is not clear if the ship is docked with an underground facility, or if the vast caverns seen in the first Alien movie are meant to be inside of it.

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The Nostromo Landing Site

The Nostromo landing site on LV-426

The Nostromo landed on Acheron after detecting a mysterious signal from the derelict ship (repeated every 12 seconds), later turning out to be a warning. The landing site was under 2000 meters from the Derelict ship, which Kane, Dallas, and Lambert traversed on foot in a North-Eastern direction. The rough landing damaged the Nostromo and crushed several rocks underneath the ship. Furthermore, a number of pieces of equipment were left behind by Kane, Dallas, and Lambert with their hasty evacuation. The crew's exploration led to the infection of Executive Officer Kane, and subsequently, the destruction of the Nostromo.

The Anesidora Landing Site

The Anesidora Landing Site from Alien Isolation

Fifteen years after the Nostromo incident and the disappearance of Ellen Ripley, the USCSS Anesidora landed on Acheron, seeking the Nostromo's flight recorder. The USCSS Anesidora landing site was likely near the Nostromo's, as the three crew members headed by Captain Marlow approached the Derelict from the same direction. The landing happened during another rough storm, and the visibility around the ship was very bad. The crew’s discovery of the derelict ship and the subsequent attack by a Facehugger on Catherine Foster led to another tragic series of events, culminating in the Xenomorph outbreak on Sevastopol Station in Alien Isolation.

Ilium Range

Ilium Range of rocks on LV-426

The Ilium Range, a mountain range on Acheron, is located near the derelict ship. This rugged terrain adds to the moon's hostile environment, making exploration difficult and dangerous. The range also played a role in hiding the derelict ship from the initial colony's detection systems. Later on, it possibly shielded the Space Jockey ship from the Atmosphere Processor explosion. The Ilium Range mentioned is named for the Latin Ilia, which is one side of the pelvic bone, or groin.

Hadley's Hope Colony

A street and a bar in Hadley's Hope Colony

Hadley's Hope was the primary human settlement on Acheron, housing 158 people at its peak (60 or 70 families). Named after its first administrator, Curtis Hadley, the colony included residential areas, research facilities, and the atmosphere processor. The lighten the mood, the colony even had a bar, but its main objectives were terraforming, mining, and research. Hadley's Hope became the epicenter of the Xenomorph outbreak when colonists unwittingly brought back an infected colonist (Russ Jorden) from the derelict ship, leading to the colony's eventual destruction. Some remains of the Hadley's Hope colony still remained after the Atmosphere Processor explosion, as seen in both Aliens: Colonial Marines and Aliens: Aftermath.

Atmosphere Processor

The Atmosphere Processor on LV-426

The atmosphere processor was a key facility in the terraforming efforts on Acheron, designed to make the moon’s atmosphere breathable for humans. Located near Hadley's Hope, it became a central point during the Xenomorph outbreak, with a Alien hive forming inside the plant and an Alien Queen establishing her nest. The processors were proudly built by the Weyland-Yutani Corporation and were supposed to be fully automated, to an extent. However, the dropship crash and the smartgun rounds during the hive battle did permanent damage to the Processor, and it exploded in a cloud of vapor "the size of Nebraska".

The Effects Of Terraforming

The USS Sulaco approaching LV-426

Terraforming efforts transformed Acheron's atmosphere to be marginally breathable, though still harsh with frequent storms. Possibly, the terraforming also worsened the volcanic activity on the planet, causing the Derelict Ship to break off one of its "arms". A permanent white cloud cover was visible from orbit after the terraforming. Hadley's Hope was established as a result of these efforts, providing a habitable environment for human colonists despite the moon's overall hostility.

The Derelict Ship Research Base

The Derelict Ship Research Base from Aliens: Colonial Marines

Following the initial Xenomorph outbreak, Weyland-Yutani established a research base around the derelict ship. This facility was used to study the Xenomorphs and the Engineer technology, though it faced numerous challenges and conflicts, including attacks by surviving Xenomorphs and confrontations with Colonial Marines. This research base was first featured back in 1999 in the Aliens vs. Predator video game (set 10 years after Aliens), which completely surrounded the Engineer Ship. Aliens: Colonial Marines (set five months after the events of Aliens) took a more conservative approach, and had the research facility (named Origin) around the entrance of the ship, with several smaller modules inside.

A Second Atmosphere Processor

The second Atmosphere Processor from the Aliens vs. Predator video game

A second atmosphere processor was constructed as part of ongoing efforts to stabilize the environment on Acheron. This facility aimed to further enhance the moon’s habitability and support future colonization efforts, despite the ever-present danger posed by the Xenomorphs. This second AP was featured in the Aliens vs. Predator 1999 video game and shared the same fate of its predecessor, being blown up as a result of Colonial Marine efforts. The initial script for Aliens by James Cameron featured numerous fully automated Atmosphere Processors, but this was cut down to just one for simplicity.

Remote Outposts

A remote outpost

Several remote outposts were established on Acheron to support exploration and research activities. These outposts provided staging areas for expeditions and served as monitoring stations for atmospheric and geological data. As mentioned in Aliens: River Of Pain (a prequel novel about Hadley's Hope), these outposts could house a few colonists for extended periods, containing supplies. However, the isolation and desolation of the planet degraded their mental state, driving at least one colonist mad.

"Nuclear Winter"

The Aftermath of the Atmosphere Processor explosion on LV-426, producing conditions similar to a Nuclear Winter

The term "nuclear winter" can be used to describe the aftermath of the atmosphere processor's explosion, which resulted in significant environmental changes on Acheron. The explosion led to widespread devastation and further complicated efforts to study and colonize the moon. As seen in the Aliens: Aftermath comic set in the year 2214, the atmosphere is no longer breathable, and ash-like snow is constantly raining. The comic describes the efforts of Cutter Vasquez (a cousin of Jeanette Vasquez) and his two companions exploring the ruins of Hadley's Hope Colony. They encounter an "Irradiated Xenomorph", glowing as a result of the radiation, which subsequently kills off the expedition.


LV-426 remains to be the most well-known planet (although it's only a moon) in the Alien franchise. Its dark, mysterious, and hellish landscape fits well with the atmosphere of the series, although it raises the question, why would humans colonize it at all? With a rich history and many locations, it is often re-visited in various Expanded Universe materials. After several nuclear-sized explosions, it is not clear if the Derelict Ship remains, and if the planet is worth exploring in the future.

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