Planetary type: Rocky world
Region: Mundian Bubble
Age: 3.5 billion years
Parent star: K-class star.
Parent planet: Gas giant (320 Earth masses).
Surface gravity: 0.89 Earth gravities.
Atmosphere: 0.8 Earth pressures, fully breathable.
Average temperature: 286k.
Ecosystem classification: carbon-based with retinal photosynthesis. Traces of bio-engineering.
Solar revolution length: 5 years.
Day length: 27 hours and 52 minutes.
Settlement Type: limited planetary civilisation.
Settlement age: 54 years.
Population: 25 million.
Allegiance : Mundian Ekumen.
Distance to Earth: 2,000 lightyears.
Starports: Port Eletharna, Spire Orbital.
1 - The Retinal World
The majority of life-bearing worlds orbiting K and G-class stars have green-coloured vegetation owing to their chlorophyll-based plant life. Mundis, in contrast, is purple. This is because photosynthesis in Mundian plants doesn't use chlorophyll but retinal pigments that absorb green-yellow light instead of red and blue. Mundis is the only known world where the entire biosphere is retinal-based thus confirming the validity of the Purple Planet Hypothesis, two thousand lightyears away from the Earth.
Aside from this peculiar colour, Mundian plants are perfectly innocuous for humans, making the planet a perfect - and rare - haven in deep space. They consume carbon dioxide, produce oxygen and are mostly edible. Chlorophyll-based plants can coexist alongside them without issues. Scientists of the Starmoth Initiative, upon discovering the planet, posited that retinal pigments had prevailed on Mundis thanks to evolutionary paths making haloarchaea bacteria much more prevalent than on Earth. Incidentally, mundian plants and lichens have no issue growing on hypersaline soils, which is a common property of haloarchaea organisms.
2 - Under the Giant's Eye
Mundis has another particularity: it is one of the two known Earth-like worlds to orbit a gas giant. The colonists named this Jupiter-sized planet Iteren. Mundis is tidally locked with its parent planet, which affects weather and illumination patterns to the point Iteren is arguably more important to Mundians than Mundis itself. The storms visible on Iteren act as a huge astronomical clock for the giant-facing side of the planet and the planet features everywhere on Mundian art and iconography. The tidal forces Mundis is submitted to result in higher than average geothermal and atmospheric activity from which planetary settlements draw most of their energy, the rest of their resources coming from Iteren and its myriads of orbital stations.
Mundis and Iteren entertain some sort of symbiotic relationship. Mundis settlements are somewhat low-tech, relying on simple geothermal wells and symbiotic organic structures to maintain a ground-based civilisation while interfering with the local environment as little as possible. Its inhabitants descend from the first scouts who made landfall some fifty years ago, cultivating a complex and colourful society based around reciprocal exchange. Iteren stations, on the contrary, are marvels of high-tech engineering hanging in orbit of the gas giant, drawing energy and resources from the clouds towards which surge hundreds of needle-shaped megastructures. Its inhabitants are spacers, they are the ones who decided to remain in zero-gravity forever after the long interstellar journey. These two cultures live together, deeply intertwined in their societies, economies and technologies. In perfect isolation, two thousand lightyears away from the Earth, they form a symbiotic state: the Mundian Ekumen.
3 - They were the Gardeners
Mundis is a beautiful planet. Its chasms are deep and sculpted like works of art. Its plains are wide and covered in patchworks of brightly coloured plants undulating in the wind. Its mountains surge towards the skies with unparalleled grace, snow-tipped peaks mirroring the distant lights of Iteren. Its forests and oceans merge in beautiful mangroves gleaming under the reflecting lights of Iteren and the Mundian sun. The beauty of Mundis is even painful. Many a new visitor finds themselves overwhelmed by the dizzying magnificence of the planet, sometimes even pushed to temporary madness.
This beauty isn't entirely natural. Mundis bears discreet but very real traces of geological and biological engineering. While the planetary biosphere is entirely natural the landscape itself isn't. The most spectacular chasms have been carved by orbital lasers. Mangroves have been carefully seeded on beds of artificial sand. Ancient bacterial agents have been used to artificially separate biomes and create patchworks of brightly coloured plants visible from space. Several seabeds have been raised or lowered via seismic pulses to create eye-pleasing color combinations. All of these planetary landscaping endeavours were carried out between five hundred thousand to one million years ago and are the most visible legacy of a (presumably extinct) nonhuman civilisation known as the Gardeners.
Mundis illustration by wikimedia commons user Mariagat Włodek Głażewski.
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