The research lab is an area of Mothership Zeta accessible via the cargo hold. It is unnecessary to visit the research lab to gain access to the Bridge and further the main questline. However, the area becomes inaccessible after leaving the engineering core and all chance of retrieving captive recordings towards the Alien Archivist goal will be permanently lost if not explored before taking the teleporter to the Bridge. You should enter the research lab via the door in the southwest of the cargo hold (Note: the door leading to the Research Lab next to where you first enter the cargo hold will be initially locked. It can be unlocked by pressing the button on the other side of the door - this requires accessing the research lab through the southwest door in the cargo hold.)
At first glance, the research lab appears to be where the aliens analyze Earth's vehicular technology. Displays of cars, motorcycles, and Colonel Hartigan's space pod. Deeper in the labs however, one discovers a warehouse-scale collection of Giddyup Buttercups and related memorabilia in various states of storage. It appears that the aliens are fascinated with the pre-War toy. One room houses a lone Giddyup Buttercup surrounded by dead test subjects with observation rooms on either side. When you enter the room the lone Giddyup's eyes will flash blue three times. A workbench can be found with a disassembled Buttercup and some pulse grenades.
The research lab consists of two large main areas that are connected by a hallway. Upon entering, the player finds themselves in the vehicular research area. This area contains a single large room with various vehicles and mechanical devices. The hallway leading to the Giddyup Buttercup research area is immediately south from the entrance to this room.
The Giddyup Buttercup research area has two levels and is comprised of a large room with three connected smaller rooms. The southernmost room in this area contains a teleportation matrix that the player character can activate in order to return to the cargo hold.
In the first section (vehicular study) you will find:
- Alien captive recorded log 13 across from the warehouse door.
- There are 37 toy cars in the entrance to the hallway that connects the vehicular study area to the Buttercup warehouse area.
In the second section (Buttercup warehouse):
- Alien captive recorded log 21 across from the healing archway.
- In the larger Buttercup warehouse, Southwest corner: Buttercup toy (across from a work table on the second level of the storage shelf)
- This is one of many areas of the ship that will not be accessible after the Lone Wanderer has completed the main quest.
- If one tours this area with Elliott Tercorien, he makes observations about Giddyup Buttercup, posters, the Nuka-Cola machine in the cargo hold, etc.
- Paulson mentions that he would lose all respect if he were to ride into town on a Giddyup Buttercup. Inside the slaughter room he will mention that his horse would never do something like that.
- The first time entering the slaughter room with Buttercup, its eyes will flash blue three times; it does not do this again.
- There are 114 Giddyup Buttercups in the area.