Darwin (Delta Pavonis IV)

Darwin (Delta Pavonis)
Image from Steve Bowers
Darwin

Darwin (Delta Pavonis IV) Data Panel

StarDelta Pavonis
Stellar DataSpectral Type G8 V
DescriptionYellow Dwarf
Radius1.188 Sol
Mass0.98 Sol
Luminosity1.231 Sol
Temperature5140 K
Heavy element abundance1.91 x Sol
Comfort Zone1.109 A.U.
Planets1 Thales 0.26 A.U. Hermian
2 Aristotle 0.52 A.U. Hermian
3 Pliny 0.75 A.U. Arean
4 Darwin 1.15 A.U. Gaian
5 Mendel 1.84 A.U. Arean
6 Lavoisier 3.31 A.U. Titanian
7 Wallace 4.30 A.U. Eujovian
8 Huxley 6.02 jovian
9 Harvey 9.64 Titanian
10 Galileo 16.38 Cryojovian
11 (none) 29.49 Planetoid Belt
12 Hutton 44.24 Plutoid
13 Bacon 66.36 Cryojovian
Data for DarwinCore type Molten
Diameter 13900 km
Density 1.20 x Terra
Mass 1.56 x Terra
Gravity 1.31 g
Escape velocity 14.7 km s-1
Orbit Distance 1.15 AU
Incident Intensity 0.92 Standard
Orbital Period 415.46 Earth Days
330.57 Local Days
Rotation Period 30h 9m 45s
Axial Tilt 38 degrees
Eccentricity 0.005
Seismic Stress 1.16
Atmosphere Pressure 0.73 Standard
Oxygen Percentage 27.6
Oxygen Pressure 0.201 bar (1.06 Standard)
Hydrosphere 0.83 ocean
Allegiance:Caretaker God (Darwin ISO)

Neumann Probes

In the early days of space exploration, star-system after star-system turned out to be devoid of life. There were some during this time who speculated that Earth was the only place in the entire universe that was home to life, and that the true purpose of mankind was to seed a barren universe with life.

In 176 the discovery by long-range telescopes and spectroscopic analysis of what appeared to be an oxygen atmosphere around an inner planet of the sun-like (yellow dwarf) G8 star Delta Pavonis changed all that. An oxygen atmosphere indicating either aerobic life or some sort of exceptional inorganic process, and a standing ocean of liquid water was also likely. Especially following the disappointment of the Europan oceans being barren of life, this discovery of a natural biosphere, and the existence of free oxygen and quite likely life beyond the Solar System, caused great excitement. The exploration of Delta Pavonis was made an international scientific priority. Getting funding for the mission however was another matter.

At this time space exploration was dependent on the big megacorps, resources were limited (the construction of a particle launch stream was an extremely expensive project), and most of the available funds were going into the exploration of the nearby stars Alpha Centauri and Tau Ceti. At almost 20 light years, Delta Pavonis was over four times as far as the former, and nearly twice as far as the latter. An unmanned probe would take almost two centuries to arrive.

Nevertheless, with pressure from scientific institutes throughout the solar system, and some clever advertising, mission enthusiasts got a lot of popularity, and in 213 a tandem pellet-stream / laser-sail powered neumann probe, the Carl Sagan, was launched towards Delta Pavonis. More advanced then earlier probes like the Giordano Bruno that was sent to Tau Ceti, the Carl Sagan would reach a velocity of almost a sixth the speed of light.

In 360 a transmission from the Carl Sagan reported back to Earth. Delta Pavonis was indeed a rich system (scientists had long expected this, as the star's metallicity was almost twice that of Sol's) and in addition to the fourth planet which had an oxygen atmosphere, Earth -like conditions, and large oceans, there were a number of other rocky planets and gas giants.

Authorities agreed that the fourth planet, which they named Darwin, would become a scientific preserve. The rest of the system could be industrialised. The distance still made it hard to stir up enthusiasm in the mission, although the various Sol System megacorporations were not slow to carve up a piece of the pie, and further neumann probes were sent to prepare the way.




The Early Colony

Problems of private nanotech and increasing anxiety over social disruptions meant the authorities had other things on their mind, and it was not until 440 that a long range colony mission was sent, using a crew of special space-adapted longevity enhanced tweaks, not unlike the Novae and Penglai missions. The timing was unfortunate, because by the time the colonists had arrived the Sol System back home was being laid waste by nanoswarms.

During the following centuries the colonists struggled to establish a home in orbiting habitats, the asteroids, and even attempted terraforming of the Mars-like world after Darwin, Delta Pavonis V, or Mendel. They developed a pure scientific community, dedicated to a new civilization without commercial exploitation. The situation was complicated by the arrival of several backyarder ships (mostly Earth-Belter cooperative projects) but the newcomers and the original scientist settlers worked together, and by the 9th and 10th centuries several demopolies were in existence.




The Federation Megacorps

The arrival of the Federation in the 11th and early 12th centuries seemed at first to usher in a new age of prosperity and learning. The early Federation of Worlds (the First Federation) had a high regard of knowledge for its own sake, and whilst Darwin was no longer the only planet in the known galaxy that was found to contain life it still had the richest biosphere discovered so far, even if that biosphere was only of equivalence to the Earth's Cambrian period.

Federation technology and industry began developing the rest of the system. But by the 13th century, Federation corporations and private investors were looking to the ecological richness of Darwin as a source of useful and novel genetic material.

Following Birnam Ecotech's illegal theft of samples from the surface, the Pavonis administration slapped an embargo and system-wide ban on all federation biotech companies.

In response, the biotech corporations began using their media clout to slander the Pavonists as xenophobic, ludditic, and anti-Federation, taking snippets of interviews and educational interactives out of context to paint them as a hostile and ignorant horde. The problem was confounded by the fact that there were some locals who supported the megacorps, had profited from the increased standard of living the corps brought, and some even wanted to settle the surface of Darwin.

The scientists meanwhile initiated their own memetic warfare, broadcasting over the PavonisNet and beaming back to Sol that the corps were incompetent, and if they were not controlled they would "do to the rest of the universe what their predecessors had done to Earth" Images of Corporation development plans, and lurid immersive projections of waste dumps despoiling the pristine environment of Darwin were they to be allowed to go ahead, seeming completely ridiculous, until the Nova Terra mediacorps got in on the act. Novamedia of course did not give a damn about scientific value, pristine wilderness, or preserving diversity. All they were concerned about was a good story, and with the increasing breakdown of the old federation society, people were looking for scapegoats. Greedy megacorps, constantly being painted as oppressive overlords who had replaced the original Federation social equality (in fact there never was any such thing!) with a monopolistic market economy that squeezed out smaller competitors (this in fact was happening in some places), made a perfect target and the ratings of the big novamediacorps soared.

As various telenet media interests took up the cause, and the Florists and their supporters began fighting back with their own propaganda, venture capitalists in the Nova Terra orbitals and the Tau Ceti belt began setting up small media corps; including the pro-scientist Nova Watch, and the pro-colonists New World.

Although a majority of orbitals and moon and asteroid habitats were on the Pavonis administration side, the pro-bio-development and pro-surface colonization habitats increasingly sided with the development and biotech corporations. Meanwhile some in-system baselines, space adapts, and cislunar superiors began taking steps towards aligning with them and setting up an alternative government in opposition to the Pavonis Administration. The problem was that neither side could agree on fine points, and the result was a number of warring clades, funded and encouraged by various off-system corporate, developmental, and media interests.

When several settler factions decided to set up habitats on the surface of Darwin, the planet become an ecological battlefield, as a number of Pavonists, inspired by lurid (and increasingly exaggerated) images of ecological vandalism, adopted radical Gaianist policies. Seeing the destruction wrought on Earth and not wanting to see this new wilderness spoilt any further, they began reverting to terrorism, and in 1341 the planet-side settlers responded, so that each side was raiding and sabotaging the other. When it seemed like an actual shooting war would developed between the two faction, the Pavonis administration decided to send in paramilitary peace-keepers, who instead as being welcomed as saviors found themselves reviled from both sides.




The Battle for Darwin

Most of the Battle for Darwin was waged out-system. The arrival of the Federation turned out to be good news for the eco-activists and their media allies. Already having developed memetics to a fine art, and demonised the Florist colonists as vandals comparable to the worst of the industrial and information age, they broadcast their messages back to the Sol System. Gaianist and ecological activists back in the Sol System began petitioning the Federation to put pressure on the Darwin squatters. The Darwin Biosphere Protection Act was instituted, and a number of scientists and ecologists arrived from Sol. However, they were no more able to shift the powerful but isolated Darwin colonists (already well armed with their own (banned) Darwin's People Defense Army). This was the first realisation for the Federation that it could not administer interstellar colonies the way it could the Sol system. Both in the Sol System and at Delta Pavonis a number of ecological and Gaianist radicals, with the backing of corporations like GeneLife and Birnam Ecotech that stood to benefit by the closing off of natural Garden Worlds (and hence forcing a greater reliance on their services) formed a number of institutions like Life First! and Guardians of Darwin, that were later to coalesce into the powerful Guardians of Bios League. Even before the formation of the Guardians of Bios, ecoactivist bioborgs had established the Darwin Liberation Army and were waging a guerrilla war against the Darwin colonists that was far more devastating than anything the ecologists or the local Space Guard could do. The Darwin colonists found themselves completely out-classed by bioborgs gengineered for combat and infiltration, while the big Novamediacorps and their local franchises lapped it all up, sending ratings both at home at at Sol going through the roof.

Although many independents and pro-industrialist habitats sided with the colonists, sending them weapons and technology and providing them with aerospace support, some of the eco-sympathetic orbitals began giving their support to the DLA bioborgs. Unity and many of the haloists remained neutral. In 1390 the situation escalated into a full-scale shooting war, the Battle for Darwin. Despite being out-numbered and outgunned in terms of gross firepower, the DLA had access to state of the art Federation stealth and nanotechnology, and the Florists and their supporters were defeated with heavy losses.

In 1391 the Provisional Darwin Administration was set up, and the defeated colonists were placed in orbital camps pending a decision as to what would become of them. The war over, the media lost interest, although occasional stories from Darwin colonist exiles were always good for a human tragedy report in the off-ratings period. Simmering problems with exiles (including acts of terrorism) were to continue until they were relocated to Mendel, which was gradually being terraformed,and other worlds in this system. Some were eventually relocated on Little Garcia, a half-terraformed moon in the Epsilon Eridani system, and after the fall of the First Fedration, a number of ex-Darwin colonists went on to found a new colony on the twin worlds of Helen and Clytemnestra.

Wallace (Delta Pavonis)
Image from Steve Bowers
Wallace; a eujovian world in the Delta Pavonis system

Xenobiology

Life on Darwin is fairly simple by Terragen standards, roughly corresponding to the Cambrian period of Old Earth. The oceans are filled with seaweeds and small creatures living on them, a rich diversity of soft-bodied invertebrates, including lobopod, proto-gastropod, and annelid analogues as well as phyla with no functional equivalent in terragen life. At the top of the food chain are the Paraeurypterida, armoured predators with a mouth like a pineapple ring, that look like a cross between sea scorpions and anomalocarids, and may attain 2 meters in length. The most commonly found water animals are the Parvonivalvia, or "polys" shelled filter-feeders that look like regular polyhedrons. Their shells are commonly found on beaches. Given the right plankton, or a nanocloned equivalent, the creatures are easily bred in aquariums in orbital habitats, where the shells are sold to tourists, or widely used for decorations. The polys are in turn preyed upon by the handfishes or Parvonacarida, swimming armoured predators with jointed mandibles at the front looking not unlike hands or claws. They are superficially similar to, but actually unrelated to, Paraeurypterida, with the larger forms reaching 50cm to a meter in length. Using the "hand" they crush polys and eat the contents. A related group, the Monomandibulata, have lost their swimming tails and crawl around on the mandibles; some locals call them "things" in honour of an ancient pre-singularity media drama. Some of the larger handfishes, as well as the open sea ribbonshrimps are edible and were harvested as food during the Darwin colony days, but now all life on the surface is strictly protected by the Darwin ISO and the local division of the League of Bios.

Land life consists just of some moss-like plants or biofilms covered with a resilient glass-like protective layer. Apart from the quota of scientific stations, the rest of the land surface is barren.

 
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Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev and Anders Sandberg

Initially published on 14 October 2008.