Ackarra

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Ackarra
Astrography
Star Szon
Type Primordial planet
Satellites Klathos
Gravity 0.7 G
Orbital distance 1.6 AU
Day length 27.2 hours
Year length 674.8 Earth days
Diameter 9,078 km
Axial tilt 21.5°
Temperature
Average -20°F
Minimum -289°F
Maximum 37°F
Atmosphere
Composition 89% nitrogen, 9% oxygen, 1% argon, 1% neon, 1% other
Surface pressure 0.6 atm
Demographics
Population 1,109,823,034
Imports Helium-3
Exports Silicon, iron

Ackarra is the fifth planet of the Szon system. It is located on the outer edge of Szon's life zone and just barely supports life. The planet is also known for being the first extraplanetary Karalian Empire colony.

Atmosphere

Ackarra is a young planet. Life had only clambered to the surface 20 million years ago, though it is primarily restricted to lichens and algae. Because of this, Ackarra has excess nitrogen in its atmosphere which has yet to be utilized by the planet's flora. Although still breathable by Vaikan, the atmosphere will cause nitrogen intoxication to species from oxygen-rich environments. However, the atmosphere is just barely breathable, and even to Vaikan, the air is thin with little oxygen. During the day, the sky is a light purple color caused by the large amounts of ionized nitrogen.

Weather on Ackarra is highly volatile yet unpredictable. The planet's thin atmosphere gives it a very wide temperature range. During noon when temperatures peak at their highest, some of the ice around the equator begins to melt, and that water later evaporates after being exposed to the sun. Thunder clouds begin forming but during and after sunset, wintry mix and hail come down instead of rain. Ackarra's hailstorms are powerful enough to damage structures, and many safety precautions had to be undertaken.

Geography

Ackarra is covered in less than 5% surface water. The poles have two enormous ice caps that cover most of the planet except for an equatorial, unexposed band of gray rock with several patches of lichen surrounding the few bodies of water on the surface.

Surprising for this planet, Ackarra is actively volcanic and has shifting continental plates. Tidal pulls from Ackarra's giant, silver moon, Klathos, cause geysers to spew out that almost immediately refreeze, leaving a landscape of crystal spires. Large glaciers have carved out large lakes, that after getting heated by the planet's geothermal heat have allowed stabe liquid water on the surface to exist.

As Ackarra is the closest habitable planet to Szon's asteroid belt, impact craters are more than common. Such asteroids delivered organic molecules and water ice onto the planet, and eventually creating the planet's underground oceans. Some of the lakes on the surface connect to these vast oceans allowing for some of the planet's hidden sea creatures to be explored.

Biosphere

Ackarra has evolved a primitive, yet vibrant ecosystem within its lakes and oceans. The creatures here consist of arthropod and mollusc analogues, most of which are bioluminiscent. The ecosystem predominantely survives near large geothermal vents, but with the advancement of lichens to the surface, photosynthetic algae has evolved. Entire ecosystems of both microbes and macroscopic zooplankton flourishes towards the surface of Ackarra's lakes.

Although no multicellular fauna lives on the surface, the caverns below Ackarra's ice caps supports an entirely different ecosystem. The moon Klathos tugs on these ice caps causing glaciers to slide amongst the thick ice sheets, and combined with vulcanism, the resulting meltwater has carved out tunnels and carried organic molecules into these regions. This was how Ackarra's underground oceans formed, but some parts of these caverns remain exposed to the air allowing for some other types of creatures to evolve, such as the Ice Mole, an arthropod analog that digs its way through the soil using large claw-like appendages. Creatures similar to the Ice Mole create tunnels and burrows deep below Ackarra's ice sheets allowing water to seep below.

In additional, the staple crop known as Geolichen, a lichen-type growth able to produce potato-like pods, is native to Ackarra's environment, growing near geothermal vents and mineral rich areas. Geolichen pods are often fed upon by bat-like creatures known as Desmodans whose guano serves as a pollination method. Geolichen's ability to survive in hostile environments lead to it being adapted as an interstellar cash crop.

Colonization

Settlements on Ackarra are around the equator built around the planet's lakes. Building a self-sufficient colony was relatively easy. As a result, Ackarra's population exploded and is currently the most populated non-capital planet owned by the Karalian with a population of just over one billion.

Agriculture was fairly easy due to the nitrogen, rich atmosphere and already nutrient-filled soil. Imported crops must be grown in greenhouses due to Ackarra's chilling temperatures, but the native Geolichen has served as a hardy, thriving alternative.

Moon

Klathos is a moon coated with layers of palladium and platinum. It is roughly one fourth the size of Ackarra, and some consider it to be a double planet. The moon is mined for its minerals.