Dante, a tidally locked habitable world

Image from Steve Bowers
The Lumiere arrives, battered and worn, at Dante in 1380 AT. (this snapshot taken from a nearby droneship is part of the superb collection maintained by the Dantepolis Virachives Historical Society)

Dante - Data Panel

System:Gliese 676, HIP 85647
StarsAlighieri (Gliese 676A), Boccaccio (Gliese 676B)
Stellar classM0V + M3V
PlanetsAd (Lucifer): mass 4.4 x Earth, diameter 1.63 x Earth, orbit 0.0413 AU, SuperHephaestian Chloridian
Ae (Saint Lucy): mass 11.5 x Earth, diameter 3.55 x Earth, orbit 0.187 AU, MesoNeptunian Acidian
Af (Dante): mass 1.24 x Earth, diameter 1.08 x Earth, orbit 0.245 AU, Gaian Vesperian, surface gravity 1.07 x Earth.
Ab (Beatrice): mass 2130 x Earth, diameter 11.3 x Earth, orbit 1.80 AU, SuperJovian Ammonian
Ac (Virgil): mass 2160 x Earth, diameter 11.2 x Earth, orbit 5.2 AU, SuperJovian Cryoazurian

Physical characteristics

The world of Dante was colonised in 1380 AT by the Company of Venturers from Nova Terra in the Lumiere, one of the first colonisation efforts by the Novans. This craft travelled at 0.2c from Tau Ceti to GL 676A, a distance of 54 light years.

Dante is tidally locked, and the sunward pole is very hot while the rearward pole is very cold. Atmospheric transfer between the hemispheres is limited to surface winds driven by the sideral rotation of the planet; Dante rotates once every 69 standard (Earth) days, while keeping the same face to the local star.
This means the terminator is the most temperate part of the planet, and this is where most of the colonists have made their homes.

Dante had a microbial biosphere when the colonists arrived; this biosphere was sequestered using the best biotechnology available at the time, and now only exists in a series of rotating habitats in Dante orbit. A new ecosphere has now been introduced, mostly confined to the terminator region.

Image from Quantum Jack
Lucifer, a hot, SuperHephaestian Chloridian world in this system


The two habitable zones on Dante are both very limited in size, and population pressure was soon a problem. Two SuperJovian gas giants Beatrice and Virgil offered limited opportunity for off-world migration, and by 3500 a.t the gas giants were encircled by several colonized icy moons and thousands of rotating habitats under the watchful eye of the local S2 transapient, DaCapo. By contrast the human population on Dante, a self-sustaining Vesperian Gaian world, did not need or desire transapient oversight. The two habitable segments of Dante continued to develop independently of the Beatrice habitat fleet and of each other.

By 4210 the archanarchists of the Western habitable zone were at loggerheads with the Etodist faithful of the soggy east; over and again the hemispheres fought against each other in the hot dry desert of the sunward hemisphere and the icy black wastes of the nightward hemisphere.

Saint Lucy
Image from Quantum Jack
Saint Lucy, a MesoNeptunian Acidian world
Long after the Version War, during which the inner Alighieri system including Dante was placed under Solarist occupation but outer Alighieri system remained a free independent zone, the hemispheres remained bitter rivals and opponents.

When at last the importation of Virsurroundings tech in the 7700's provided a partial solution to the problems of crowding on this world, the ancient feuds became largely history and paradoxically a subject for nostalgia.


This form of Augmented Reality technology allows the citizens of this world to change the apparent characteristics of their surroundings, using a combination of direct neural interface and utility fog environment simulation. Even when meeting face to face, two people using Virsurrounding tech can perceive their environment, and each other, in totally different ways. In this way the people of Dante are able to have profoundly rich and diverse life experiences in comparatively little physical space.

Image from Quantum Jack
Beatrice, a SuperJovian Ammonian world

Extended Terraforming Schemes

There have been many proposals for extending the currently quite restricted terraformation of Dante. At present only the terminator is comfortably habitable; there are several methods that could be employed to heat the icy nightward hemisphere and cool the sunward hemisphere.

These proposals have ranged from relatively simple sunshaper technologies involving sunshades and space mirrors, to extremely energy-hungry plans involving causing the planet to rotate more rapidly. Most of the artificial rotation schemes were judged to be too disruptive by the world council, while the sunshade-and-mirror and other illumination schemes have been indefinitely shelved since the introduction of virsurrounding technology.

Image from Quantum Jack
Virgil, a SuperJovian Cryoazurian
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Development Notes
Text by Quantum Jack and The Astronomer
from an original article by Steve Bowers and Brian Davis
Initially published on 04 August 2004.