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The occupation of colonists can be set to research in the biodome management screen. Colonial researchers spend their time exploring their home world and solving problems. The more colonists allowed to research, the greater a colony's chance of making a research discovery. Discoveries are bonuses that will remain with that colony forever. Every colony has its own, independent list of discoveries, even if they're owned by the same character. These are the possible research discoveries that can occur on a colony:

Discovery Effect
Weather Prediction Better reproduction
Geothermal Refrigeration 2x Organics harvest
Industrial Complex Double Flak Cannon Production
*Military Tradition Double Military Workforce
Native Plants 2x Medicine harvest
Advanced Architecture 50% faster construction
Advanced Engineering 2x Equipment harvest
Spectroscopes 2x Uranium harvest
*Commodities Market Liquadate Resources
Drilling 2x Oil harvest
Ecological Equilibrium Reduces pollution
Advanced Aerodynamics Double Missile Production
Superconductors More research output
Bacteria Farming 2x Anaerobes harvest
Spice Mining 2x Spice Harvest
Channel Descrambling Improves Morale

The symbol "2x" means double. If you harvest 0 before the research you still harvest 0 after.

Researching takes a bit of luck. You need to set your colonists to work on research, and then give them a day or two to come up with something. There is an element of chance to how soon a discovery will be made, but the more research output the colony has, the greater the chances of making a discovery with each passing hour.

  • Commodities market allows you to sell any resource in the refinery at a reduced selling price.
  • Military Tradition doubles the effectiveness of a colony's defense. For example, a colony with its military workforce set to 25% would defend itself as though it were set to 50%. Remember that the maximum defense strength for any colony is 2,500 colonists, so with Military Tradition and a 5000 population colony, you would only need to set the military to 25% to get the maximum defense strength. This discovery does not effect the Weapons Factory.