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Arrakis
Name: Arrakis
Planet type: One (breathable atmosphere)
Surface type: Desert
Prominent Features: Dunes, rocky areas, canyons, mesas, desert stretches.
Settlements and Cities: Arrakeen, Fremen Sietches
Satellites: Two Moons, one bearing the image of human hand, the other, the image of a desert mouse, Muad'dib.
Orbits: Canopus
Inhabitants: Sandworms, Sandtrout, Sandplankton, Fremen.
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"God created Arrakis to train the faithful."
- The Wisdom of Muad'Dib, by the Princess Irulan.

Planetology

Arrakis, better known coloquially as Dune, was a desert planet, the third from its orbital star of Canopus. It was in turn orbited by two moons, one bearing the image of the desert kangaroo, the other, that of a human hand. Both held great religious significance, in particular the moon bearing the image of the desert kangaroo, or "Muad'Dib", as it was often associated with Paul Atreides, who had taken the name of Muad'Dib when he joined the Fremen. The atmosphere of Arrakis was breathable, but due to a lack of water circulation and precipitation (not it's natural state), extremely hot and dry, causing the surface to consist mostly of desert, with the exception of the polar caps, and a few cultivated areas. Due to the immense heat, the native Fremen, who had arrived on the planet some thousands of years before, fashioned Stillsuits, wearable water filter systems that trapped the body's moisture, and allowed them to survive much longer than they would in the open. Due to the planet Arrakis being the only source of the Spice Melange in the known universe, it was considered the "most valuable planet" in the universe, to the extent that a saying existed; "He that controls Arrakis, controls the Spice, and he that controls the Spice, controls the Universe."

Surface and Sandworms

Arrakis' Surface
The surface of Arrakis, though mostly desert, contained numerous areas of rock, and even a polar cap.
The terrain on Arrakis, though mostly desert, had a few areas of rock, and several irregularities in the land such as mesas and canyons. To escape the huge sandworms that lived beneath the desert surface and defended their territories with great zeal (often destroying whole spice mining facilities in the process), one needed to get to one of these rocky areas, from which the worm could not penetrate the sand.

Spice

The major export of Arrakis, one that made it so important, was the spice Melange, a narcotic substance used all across the galaxy. The want for it was so great, that those that controlled the spice racket had great influence and power. The entire surface of Arrakis, even the air, was covered in a fine coat of spice dust, that permeated through all things. This caused theblue-within-blue eyes that were the trademark of Arrakeen natives. To find larger quantities of spice however, one needed a spice harvester to venture into the open desert and extract the substance from the sands. This could be extremely dangerous due to the sandworms, who would destroy any trespassers making rythmic vibarations on the surface, and so several airborne lookouts were usually deployed to search for the sight of an approaching worm (known as "wormsign"), and a carrier was needed to lift the harvester to safety if a worm was spotted.

Water Scarcity

Fremen walk the surface of Arrakis along with a 'thopter.

Fremen utilised stillsuit technology to preserve water, even in the deep deserts of Arrakis.
As water was so scarce on Arrakis, a product of its zero precipitation, the Fremen took every precaution to ensure it was neither wasted nor wanted. Aside from the stillsuits, which recycled the body's water (sweat, saliva, urine, feces), purified it, and then stored it in special catchpockets, from which it could be drunk by the wearer through a tube. Water was also ritualistically collected from corpses, and was never spilled. It was considered a great symbol of respect and allegiance to spit in the presence of another, as it meant wasting water from the body. Most people of Arrakis knew of the polar caps, and yet, for reasons unknown to them, water was not pumped from them. Paul Atreides noted this on arrival, and thought that Arrakis could, one day, become a beautiful luscious world, were there to be enough water circulating.
This dream was shared by many, and the Fremen believed that one day a savior would arrive and bring
them into a world of green, where water was plentiful. To prepare for this event, the Fremen stored huge amounts of water underground. The planetoligist, Liet-Kynes, was aware that Arrakis possessed enough water to sustain the people, located in these Fremen reservoirs, but dared not speak of this in public, lest others seek to deter him for profit. The Fremen kept these huge reservoirs in many of their sietches, hiding them and guarding them, often with their lives, until the day came when the water could be used to make Arrakis beautiful. To preserve their secret, they bribed the Spacing Guild with great loads of valuable spice, in return for which the guild prevented any satellites or scanners being placed in orbit around Arrakis, which would surely discover the reservoirs. Eventually, most areas of Arrakis were terraformed, apart from Leto Atreides II Sareer desert, making the world more inhabitable and pleasant. This also meant, however, the extinction of the sandworms, and a halt to spice production.

History

Spoilers AheadWarning: Spoilers Follow For Dune Universe, Caution Advised!

Fremen walk the surface of Arrakis with several aerial transports in tow.
Fremen walk the surface of their scorching homeworld, with several airborne vessels in tow.

Early History

Arrakis' first known historical record dates back to before 1200 B.C., when the sandtrout first arrived on Arrakis from some other, unknown place, presumably on some natural object such as a meteorite. With the sandtrout in place, the planet's water supply was encysed and over a period of several hundred years it became the dry desert seen throughout the years of the Imperium. It was beleived for some time that this was the natural state of the planet, but it was not until after the discovery made by Leto Atreides II on Arrakis that this theory was discarded in place of the correct one. Long before this though, the Zensunni Wanderers, a separated sect of Buddhist religion, arrived and settled on Arrakis. In later years they would become known as the Fremen. Some time later, the sprawling fuedal empire that spanned many planets established botanical testing stations on Arrakis, which eventually discovered the spice melange. With the discovery of the precious substance, the various factions of the universe soon became dependant on it for wealth and sustenance, and thus, the faction in direct control of Dune was said to be the most powerful in the universe.

Under Atreides Rule

In 10,191 A.G., the Harkonnens, then current rulers of Arrakis, handed over their territory, by order of the Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV, to House Atreides, another Great House in the Landsraad. The Atreides, having seized control, were then attcked en mass by Harkonnen strike forces, backed by troops from the Emperor himself. Most were killed, but a few, in particular Paul Atreides and his mother Jessica, escaped. With the help of the local Fremen, Arrakis was taken back under Atreides rule by Paul Atreides, who then took the power of the Emperor for himself. After Paul's rule, his sister, Alia, took power, but killed herself after being possessed by her grandfather's other memory spirit.
Paul's descendant, Leto Atreides II, changed the face of Arrakis even further. Merging with the sandtrout of Arrakis, he became a living God Emperor, and ruled Arrakis and the Empire for some three thousand years, during which time the planet underwent a great terraforming, and became green and plentiful. Leto maintained control over other factions in the Empire by dishing out reserves from his personal melange stockpile, as new spice was not in production at this time. He was eventually assainated, though he had full knowledge of the event prior to its happening, and his sandworm body disintegrated, forming new sandtrout which again would make Arrakis a desert world and bring back the sandworm and the spice.

Post-Atreides Rule

As of , some one thousand year later, a group of religious men established a system of temples on Arrakis, glorifying the name of the Atreides and the Tyrant, as Leto had become known.

Geography of Arrakis

Map of Dune
A Map of Arrakis, viewed from the northern hemisphere. Several settlements are visible, as well as the planet's polar caps in the center of the map.
As a desert planet, Dune possessed a unique and ever changing environment. Most of its surface was sand, yes, but its inhabitants took advantage of the areas of rock that it had. The largest of these, the Shield Wall, was an embankment of rock several hundred feet high, that protected Arrakeen, built in proximity to it, from lashing desert storms and sandworms. Antiques from before the age of the Spice, Arrakis was also dotted with hundreds of the Emperor's old botanical testing stations, and hundreds more Sietch Communities. Dozens of mountains, mesas and ergs permeated its surface as well, and many unnatural crevasses and ridges, created by the movement of sandworms, also added to the surface features of the landscape.
There were also variations in the sands. Some sinks,
effected by the fall of sand on their sides, could pull an entire human to his death and crush him, while others, loose under the surface, would make loud drumming noises when walked upon, and almost surely summon a worm. At the planets uppermost point, lay the Polar Caps, a vast expanse of ice, some of which was presumably melted down to make water forthe rich, that had never truly been explored. It was in the surrounding areas that the Fremen began their terraforming of Arrakis, and in doing so, had to shoot down any who came to far north, lest they expose the plant life that was growing there.
Southern Hemisphere Arrakis
Arrakis as seen from the southern hemisphere.
The very reason for Arrakis' desert terrain, lay in the secret of the sandworms themselves. According to legend, the sandworms were brought to Arrakis long before it became a desert planet, in their pre adult form of sandtrout. Once on Arrakis, their population exploded, and they enclosed all the water beneath the ground. This lead to Arrakis' desertification, and, in this new world they had created, the sandtrout were able to advance, and became the sandworms.

The sandtrout ... was introduced here from some other place. This was a wet planet then. They proliferated beyond the capability of existing ecosystems to deal with them. Sandtrout encysted the available free water, made this a desert planet ... and they did it to survive. In a planet sufficiently dry, they could move to their sandworm phase.
-
Leto Atreides II

Settlements on Arrakis

Before the Terraformation

Few settlements existed on Arrakis prior to its terraforming, and years before the spice was discovered, it was used only as an Imperial botanical testing station. After the discovery of spice, it became necessary for settlements to be constructed in order to house workers and equipment. This idea expanded until there were several full sized cities on Arrakis. The Fremen had, of course, built their sietches before this.

Arrakeen

Grand Palace of Arrakeen

The Grand Palace of Arrakeen.
The primary city of Arrakis prior to its terraformation was, of course, Arrakeen, a large city home to many great landmarks, such as the Grand Palace of Arrakeen, The Temple of Alia, and the Keep, the place that the Atreides chose as their dwelling during their rule of the planet. After the terraformation of Arrakis, Arrakeen, or at least the place in which it had once existed, was turned into the last area of desert on the planet, the Sareer, Leto Atreides II's center of operation's, and the location for The Citadel of Leto II.

Sietches

In addition the major city of Arrakis, many Sietches, settlements in caves or sheltered areas, such as Sietch Tabr, existed. They were simply areas that the Fremen often used when not on the move, or as a safe place in times of danger. When Paul Ateides and his mother, Jessica, were stranded in the desert and sought the help of the Fremen, Stilgar, they were taken to Sietch Tabr.

After the Terraformation

Considering that post-terraformation Arrakis was far less sand covered, the construction of cities and dwellings was far simpler. Across the surface of Arrakis, hundreds of individual village and agricultural communities, such as Goygoa, began to appear. Due to the enforced rule of Leto II, these communities, as well as many more across the universal empire, were denied the power to expand, create, or communicate with others, thus ensuring that the human race was both kept under lock and key, and that it survived.

Out of-Universe Information

The desert planet Arrakis, in every one of Frank Herbert's, Brian Herbert's and Kevin J. Anderson's Dune novels, as well as in the Dune video games, and film and television series, is the main focal point for both plot and antagonism, and almost always the current setting. Throughout the entire Dune series and its spin-offs, Arrakis is regularly referred to as "the most valuable planet in the universe", due to its being the only melange producing planet in the known universe. This concept bears immense similarity to the modern day oil disputes. This similarity was in fact acknowledged by Frank Herbert himself.

Other Names

In an early draft of Dune, "Spice Planet", a full version of which was later included in Brian Herbert's and Kevin J. Anderson's Road to Dune, Arrakis is known simply as "Duneworld." In foreing languages, Arrakis is known as "Der Wusten Planet" (German), "Duin" (Dutch), "Duna" (Brazilian and Czechoslovakian) and "Diuna" (Polish).

Appearances

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