Planet & Ecology


Well of course everything looks bleak. It's a desert. But it has a certain...isolated beauty to it. I mean, everything is beautiful, because if it wasn't I know I wouldn't bother sticking around.

Bart Bellows

Physical Characteristics

The following list outlines Aurora's vital statistics:

The Auroran day is 20 hours long, and the Auroran year is 640 Auroran days, making it a little shy of 1.5x the length of an Earth year. Aurora has no natural satellites and low orbital eccentricity (its orbit tends towards circular more than elliptical).

Aurora is approximately 5,500km in radius, and 17,300km in circumference, making it slightly smaller than Earth.

Aurora's atmospheric constituents are approximately 35% oxygen, 50% argon, 13% nitrogen and 2% trace elements, predominantly carbon dioxide and water vapour. The atmosphere itself can be considered "thicker" than Earth's. Atmospheric pressure is approximately the same as on Earth. Comparatively high particulate matter/heavy-ion concentration causes significant telecommunication problems over any appreciable range, and combined with solar radiation creates the frequent aurorae to which the planet partially owes its name.

Aurora's local gravity is 75-80% that of Earth's.

Magnetic Field:
Aurora's local magnetic field is slightly weaker than Earth's, but it is subject to variation over time - the direction that the magnetic field acts in drifts, as well as increasing and decreasing in strength by a small amount. This causes the occasional electronics failure and can interfere with accurate compass measurement.

Rivis 490 is very luminous for its size, and as Aurora possesses a weaker magnetic field than Earth, solar radiation bombardment at the surface is higher. Uncovered skin suffers sunburn more quickly and more easily.

Being a mostly desert planet, temperatures vary greatly during the course of the day. Surface daytime temperatures can reach 55°C, whilst at night-time they can drop below freezing. The dry air and wind chill can make this seem even colder. There is less diurnal variance at higher latitudes, remaining at a more stable temperature around 15-20°C. In the most extreme polar regions, the temperature remains below freezing for most of the year.

Aurora mostly varies between dusty desert and rocky badlands with a handful of small seas. Tundra replaces the badlands and deserts as one reaches higher latitudes. There are numerous other geographical features present, such as canyons, mountain ranges, ridges, valleys and more, as expected given its active geology.

Aurora is geologically-active, and there are frequent (though often fairly minor) earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Aurora's crust consists mostly of otherwise insignificant rock, but has numerous deposits of valuable minerals and metals, with iron, aluminium and titanium being amongst the most common. There are numerous geothermal hotspots, indicating an interior structure of the planet not dissimilar to that of Earth. Average crustal thickness is unknown.

Surface Water:
There is surface water on Aurora, but it has a very high particulate matter concentration, being noticeably higher in sodium, silicon and assorted other dissolved elements. As a result it is inappropriate for consumption without extensive desalinisation and pre-treatment. There are extensive ice caps at the polar regions. Groundwater is often purer and can be found in numerous aquifers and subterranean formations.

Aurora is a very dry planet - rainfall happens but is extraordinarily rare. Surface wind velocity can regularly exceed Earth averages, and sandstorms, dust-storms and twisters are common. High atmospheric electrical charge causes frequent potent electrical storms. There is little seasonal variation on Aurora, as the planet does not experience the same degree of axial tilt - as such, the length of the Auroran day varies less over the course of the year.

Basic planetary survey indicates that there is a high possibility that Aurora was not always a desert planet, and that it used to be more Earth-like, with a higher proportion of surface water and appreciable vegetation cover (as opposed to the negligible vegetation currently present). Numerous remnants of this alien life are still present, having adapted to the slow but total desertification of the planet.