Mars is the fourth planet of Sol and the capital world of the Federation. The terraforming of Mars was completed in 2291 after an earlier, experimental attempt failed. Sometime after 2325, when the Federation was shaken by its unexpected defeat against the nascent Empire of Achenar and dissent was rising among Federal member systems, the government moved the capital city from Washington, D.C. on Earth to the growing Martian colony of Olympus Village. This act was a symbolic representation of the Federation's transition from an Earth-centric perspective to an interstellar one, as Mars was chosen for the new capital in a process that also considered locations outside Sol, but it was also pragmatic, since Earth was still suffering from climate instability and radioactive fallout from World War III at the time, while Mars had quickly developed a comfortable environment.
Mars was of particular interest to humanity for millennia, and some of its earliest recorded observations were made by ancient Egyptian astronomers. Before the Mariner 4 probe was launched, it was thought that the planet was inhabited by intelligent life, known as Martians, a notion made popular by the H.G. Wells novel The War of the Worlds. After Mariner 4 made a fly-by in 1965 and the landing of the Viking landers in 1977, it was discovered that Mars was a barren, lifeless rock. Further robotic missions were launched, many of which failed to reach the planet for many reasons, giving rise to the notion of the "Mars Curse". Liquid water was finally discovered on the planet in 2015, but it would take until the 2070s for humans to set foot on "The Red Planet", owing to government corruption, terrorism, and global war. Fossils were discovered on Mars in the 2100s, proving that alien life once existed there.
In the 34th century, Mars is the bustling capital of the Federation. Olympus Village, a sprawling metropolis despite its modest name, is home to the White House, Federal Congress, the headquarters of every major Federal corporation including Core Dynamics and the defunct Mars Tribune, and Olympus Village University. Another notable city is Quenisset, which features the Federal Navy's Admiralty building and a facility known as the Banqueting Hall that hosts politicians and corporate leaders.
In 2280, the first non-human relic was found in space. The object was found buried on Mars; it was no bigger than a child's hand and is still surrounded in secrecy, even in 3300. No information has ever been circulated as to the properties of this item or its origin, other than it is non-human.
Second Terraforming Attempt
In 2291, the second attempt to terraform Mars was eventually successful. The techniques employed were crude by later standards and the project had taken nearly a hundred years, but finally, humans could walk on the surface and breathe without the need for oxygen suits or respirators.
The Achenar crisis had far reaching consequences for the Federal Council. Earth's leadership had been unquestioned, but the mother planet was already undergoing a difficult period with the climate and radiation problems on Earth not improving, and yet Mars appearing ever more verdant and a more comfortable place to live, there was a general exodus of the rich and influential. The prospect of war with Achenar required a strong hand. In time, the Federal Congress moved from Washington on Earth, to Olympus Village on Mars, and this helped ease friction with other Federation members - as there was a consultation period where other systems were considered.