Trappist 1-e

Planetary type: Rocky world
Region: Communal Space
: 3.5 billion years
Parent star
: M-class star (red dwarf). Tidally locked.
Surface gravity: 0.77 Earth gravities
: 0.8 Earth pressures, fully breathable.
Average temperature
: 246k.
Ecosystem classification
: carbon-based, contaminated.
Solar revolution length: 6 days.
Day length: Tidally locked planet.
Settlement Type
: local planetary settlements.
Settlement age
: 125 years.
Population: 2 million.
: Independent.
Distance to Earth: 40 lightyears

Starports: Nave Point, Trappist Memorial Hub. 

1 - A well-known world

Trappist 1-e was discovered during the last decades of the industrial age using the solar transit method. Considered as one of the most likely candidates for extraterrestrial life, Trappist 1-e was extensively studied before the collapse. The knowledge of this planet was kept by monks of the Outer Church during the Low Age. When humankind found itself capable of interstellar travel, Trappist was naturally selected as a destination for the exploration ships of what was yet to be known as the Starmoth Initiative. Long-range explorer ship Gondwana reached Trappist 1-e about one century and a half ago. When it translated in orbit it found Trappist 1-e exactly as it had been pictured by astronomers five centuries prior: a small rocky world bathed by the light of a red dwarf. 

"I had read all of the materials available on Trappist before embarking on the Gondwana. Historical records, religious texts, ancient scientific articles, modern assessments, everything." recalls exobiologist Marcina Sevenkova in their book Our First Travels. "Actually reaching this planet felt very strange. I knew how it was supposed to be like. I knew what to expect. The characteristics of the planet, the way the star would look like, the temperature of the atmosphere, the percentage of water on the surface, everything. When we landed I felt the strangest feeling of déjà-vu. I knew this world. When I set foot on the salty ground I felt like I was coming back to a well-known place. Trappist had been part of our collective consciousness for so long..."

2 - Of corals and men

Trappist 1-e was humankind's first contact with complex indigenous life forms and it did not go very well for the locals.

Trappist is eminently hostile to life due to its nature as a tidally locked planet. The sun-facing side of the planet is scorching hot, covered in burning deserts and shallow oceans. The dark side on the contrary is plunged in a cold, endless night. Life can only really thrive alongside the equator or "terminator" subjected to an eternal warm twilight. Trappist does not seem to harbour multiple realms like on Earth. There are no distinctions between vegetal or animal life. The dominant lifeforms are coral-like symbionts made of lichen colonies growing inside clay and bone tubes that protect them from solar flares and extreme winds created by the temperature differences between the cold and warm side. These lifeforms communicate via sound and pheromones, creating a vast interconnected network capable of adapting to Trappist 1-e's ever-changing atmospheric conditions. This ecosystem is a marvel of adaptation, perfectly suited to life on a tidally locked planet orbiting a flare star.

It has one weakness, however. The coral-like symbionts of Trappist have no immune system to speak of, only relying on their shells for protection. Should they be confronted with bacteria capable of breaking down their bone shells over time they would die very quickly.

And what did humans bring to Trappist 1-e?

3 - The contaminated world

As of today, the ecosystem of Trappist is considered to be in grave danger. Despite the best efforts of the Starmoth Initiative, removing human-carried bacteria from the planet proved impossible. Despite being regularly quelled by star flares and the resulting UV spikes, Earth-bound bacteria have managed to thrive on Trappist by infiltrating coral tubes and feeding on the local inhabitants which are virtually defenceless against them. There have been attempts at creating protected areas and isolated reserves to slow down the decay process but so far pathogens have always managed to circumvent these measures. The ecosystem of Trappist is condemned.

In truth Trappist now stands as an example of what not to do when interacting with a planet that harbours life. Strict decontamination protocols must be mandatory and nothing short of full hazmat suits with atmospheric recycling apparatus should be used. Ecosystem strength assessments should always be carried out to determine how resilient local life is to human pathogens and invasive species. If possible all contact should be avoided with ecosystems that have been deemed too fragile to withstand interaction with off-world life. The planet-sized disaster of Trappist shaped humankind's approach to alien ecosystems for the decades to come. 

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