Type: Terrestrial (Tidally-locked)
Primary Star: K5V (Orange Dwarf)
Gravity: 1.09 g
Diameter: 13445 km
Atmospheric Pressure: .97 atm
Atmospheric Composition: 73% Argon, 27% Oxygen,
Surface Temperature (Mean): 1 C (terminus)/-40 C (nightside)/33 C (dayside)
Day Length: N/A
Orbital Period: 217 Days
Gate Access: Pandora Gate
Notes: Alien Life, Resources Available, Dangerous Local Phenomena (high winds)
Spark is a "Vesperian" planet, a habitable tidally-locked terrestrial, like Sunrise. It's Sun is slightly larger and brighter, but in turn this means that Spark can be a little farther away. Even so, it still has extremely harsh temperatures - the "cold pole" (to use the terminology of Sunrise) has temperatures of around -80 C, and the hot pole can be closer to 70 C. The severe temperature differential means winds are incredibly high on the planet, and anything that wants to live and grow must be tough or utilize the terrain to survive. But life on Spark has evolved in it's own way to the environment, which is of great interests to many researchers. Spark as a planet has an unusually high and diverse concentration of metallic salts in it's composition, which the local life has evolved to take advantage of and naturally grow with. This means that the local wildlife, both flora and fauna analogs often store or generate electricity to utilize in a wide variety of functions not seen in terran biology. Plants release hive volumes of current when the tension of their leaves is broken to deter animals from eating them are in turn preyed upon by species of herbivores which can safely store electricity to prevent being harmed. Pack hunting "thunder lizards" use electrical senses to track prey and can oscillate EM fields to produce a kind of communication. Local colonial insect analogs have tiny radio antennae to navigate, track and communicate, and their multi-pronged stingers act like tasers instead of relying on toxins. Omnivorous "salt vampires" leach salts from plants and animals to live, and parasitic vines act like natural high-power cables. On the night side, plants use electricity to gain heat and melt water to survive much further out than they would otherwise, and on the day side some plants convert excess heat to electricity then discharge it away - leading to a very bizarre and active biosphere. The use of naturally occurring electricity occasionally poses hurdles for researchers to study both the planet and it's life.
Like other tidally-locked terrestrials, Spark has fairly differentiated terrain. Around the terminus is forests of several breeds of low, heavy "statictrees" which passively generate current to prevent their leaves from being eaten, or cool marshes with reeds which store power generated in deep roots and bulbs so they can regrow if their tips are destroyed. Toward the dayside it rapidly becomes thick rainforests, filled with a variety of plant types which live in symbiosis with huge metallically barked trees or tall bamboo-analogs which catch native lightning as it is generated - on the floor deep below the canopy plants and animals often use current to substitute for low light, and can spark to defend or hunt and supplement nutrients. Closer, the terrain gives way to savannahs and rocky deserts, before ultimately becoming a barren, flat salt plain. The night side has some similar tundral or taiga forests, before giving way to extremely low grasses or "aerostat plants" which gather heat, light and power from tall bundles which are anchored to deep roots, before life becomes limited to pools created by geothermal activity or other exotic cases.
The Gate and the small research base of a few thousand on Spark is set up in the shadow of a short mountain range, which is formed by a river valley. The terrain is too uneven and steep for the local plants to deeply colonize, barring a few ground-covering colonies. The settlement has been unofficially named "Conductor" and very carefully settled itself as to avoid distressing or disturbing local xenobiology while still keeping researchers and potential colonists safe.
A Note On Sparkian Biology:
The xenoflora and fauna of Spark are similar to Earth animals in many ways, still carbon-based, but have many subtle chemical differences in their analogs. This means that generally they are unpleasant for humans to consume, both for incompatibility and in general because they have a very "salty" quality which skews how they taste and can have health impacts. Conversely the local wildlife is much more tolerant to salt content in many forms than earth biology. Almost all forms of life on Spark can be considered to have Eelware, and may have any number of other electricity related qualities, most frequently Shock Tolerance and (Bio)Electrical Sense, but also possibly emulating Radar, radio communication on a scale similar to Mesh Inserts, possibly even producing ranged "blasts" of current similar to a Stunner. This may interfere with several kinds of technology, or technology may interfere with local creatures causing them to behave in unexpected ways. Known species on Spark: Rubbernecks, Thunder-Lizards, Salt Vampires, Sparkbugs, Buzzbees, Spithian, Plugfish, Viola's River Shark, Conduit Vines, Statictrees, Lightningrod Tree, Aerostat Plants, Sparkgrass, Broad Shockleaf (and several "Shockleaf" subspecies), Battery Reeds, Broadcast Plant, Tesla Tree