"We welcome you with open arms. We only wish to protect our Confederacy against ones who would see our demise. However, you and your kind seem different than our fears...Welcome to Lanoo." Lix, Confederate President
Lanoo is a planet located in globular cluster NGC 362. It is the capital world of the Lanoir Confederacy, which encompasses the entire cluster. The major species on this planet is a carbon-based species fittingly called the Lanoirans, and the entire confederacy seems to be a close-knit alliance of planets with Lanoo as the center of government.
When the CHS Hawking discovered the system in 80906 CE, initially it was believed that the cluster was far too small and too far away from the plane of the Via Sagittaria to have any planets of interest. This notion was quickly proven false however, as what was found was a thriving coalition of planets, and following some of the major apparent trade routes various species had set up, the hawking soon found this beautiful world. The captain did not even have to consult the Contact Directive, because unless you were a large boulder, it was fairly obvious there were warp drives in use here, and in great numbers.
Before going planetside, the Captain of the Hawking decided he would stay in orbit for a while, just watching the space traffic coming to and from the planet, as to ascertain exactly what kind of numbers they were looking at here. What was discovered was that this world was pretty well-visited by other species in the cluster, as ships were constantly arriving and departing. It reminded more than one scientist aboard the Hawking of Earth, which was a great sign. Both asteroid moons were used as stations for these visitors, with transport activity detected from these to the surface.
They had to do their introduction carefully, because due to their rules governing all warp drives in use, they did not want "aliens" destroying their fragile ecosystem. Understandable, because the cluster is so incredibly tiny. So, they took great care in notifying the resident Lanoirans of their presence. Initially suspicious, they mulled over the decision to allow this "alien" craft to conduct research, but seeing the Hawking had been at this point in orbit for 2 weeks and had caused no incidents, they decided to go ahead with it. A delegation consisting of 4 high-ranking members of the Confederacy boarded the Hawking and after a lengthy meeting, gave the okay for the crew to conduct research.
One of the very first observations made was that the Hawking had inadvertently arrived during a rather large sporting event, known as "Ring-riding". It is a race that takes place within the rings of the 5th planet in the system, using small single-seater craft. It is apparently very dangerous, as the participants have to dodge between large chunks of ice that make up the rings of the gas giant, and only gets more so as the course winds its way through the thicker ring segments. Often, no more than a few meters separates the racers from an untimely demise, and participants have indeed perished on the course. The first to complete one lap of the course is declared the winner, with others receiving points for the overall Galactic Championship.
One of the delegation said that this was their last race of the year, and that the entire racing series was called the Intergalactic Ring-riding Championship, with other courses around member planets with rings. One of the attractive properties for spectators is the element of danger, as it takes immense skill to even complete a race without some sort of injury, let alone complete one alive.
Surface of Lanoo
Before planetfall, the delegation chosen to lead the away team had to figure out where to land on the planet, which would cause the least disruption to the Lanoiran race. They decided to set down on the northernmost icecap. Planetside, the small detachment of science personnel quickly made friends with their Lanoiran counterparts, and found that this world resembled similar terrestrisl worlds in many ways, the most obvious of which being that Lanoo was the hub of a thriving economy, being the hub world of the Confederacy. More similarities had to be discovered, and were during the course of the month-long stay in the system. For example, due to the climate planetside, the Lanoiran race bore a striking resemblance to one of great apes, the Mountain Gorilla. There were striking differences too, of course - one of which being there was a membrane of thin skin not unlike a bat wing in the area between their arm and torso.
Even the flora and fauna planetside were more or less constructed to fit the needs of their environment. One notable group of tree species, which hold a strong influence on Lanoo, has been dubbed the Pot Holder-Type Tree. It is named for its characteristic small cups to catch rainwater. The lack of a dedicated root system has made the Pot Holder-Type of tree only rely on its cups for water. This species is noted to grow on more moist environments, and is known to populate a heavy level of the surface.
Another surprising discovery about these trees was that they were mobile, albeit their movements were very slow. Monitored over the course of 48 hours, one of these trees were seen to move half a meter, and there is evidence that they were migratory, changing locations as weather conditions change on the surface. They have since been described as a flora-fauna.
There was even a species of plant that had evolved to take advantage of being in the shadow of Lanoo's moon when it eclipses the planet. Dubbed "Noonshades", it only bloomed when the shadow of Lanoo's moon was over the region they inhabit. This is thought to be an evolutionary advantage in it's niche, as some nocturnal insects may mistake the shadow as being evening, and come out to pollinate flowers. This happens rarely however, and the rest of the time, its beauty is such that some cuttings of it were taken, and it is used commonly as an ornamental plant.
Due to the extremely low axial tilt of around half a degree, Lanoo sees no seasons, and is instead accorded "ecoregions". The mean temperature even at -20 centigrade, makes the region 10 degrees north and south of the equator akin to tropic environments. Indeed, this region is lush with life, and there were vacation spots on the shores of some of the crater lakes in the region. From 10 to 40 degrees from the equator is considered temperate. Vast forests too cover this zone, although the trees here tend to be coniferous with a few decidouous trees mixed in. From 50 to 70 degrees from the equator, tundra abounds, and most flora here are low-growing shrubs. This is also the least populated ecoregion on the planet, due to scarce resorces. Finally, from 70 degrees to the poles, the landscape is completely taken over by icecaps.
The Lanoirans, as well as apparently all the other warp-capable species in the Crown Jewel, are a Late Type-2 Civilization. Some species may be Mid Type-2 however, and there are travel restrictions in place to protect the Confederacy from undesirable actors, as the crew aboard the CHS Hawking found out firsthand when they arrived. While seeming barbaric at first, the Captain of the Hawking found this system very efficient at keeping out unwanted snoopers. There are also a few pre-warp civilizations as well - violations of the "Pre-warp Species Protection Act" are dealt with harshly.
Moons of Lanoo
Both asteroid moons of Lanoo are used as stations, with the larger of the two being called "Lanoir Confederacy Station", and is used for special delegates from all over the confederacy, as well as the main station in the system. This station is awarded special status, as it is the only one that is considered its own entity, and as a result, according to Lanoirian law, the system has 7 planets instead of 6. The other is utilized as a research station, since it is the closest to the planet and affords an incredible science vantage point.
Lanoo's one major moon is an airless world called Leshooq. It is kept as a sort of museum to the Lanoirans earliest days of spaceflight. Rover remains were found, as well as some remains of primitive space travel. It seemed as though the Lanoirans took a similar path to the stars as Humanity did, and special permission was granted for the Hawking to land here and study the ancient machinery. Indeed, the Lanoiran people seemed to follow a similar path, and the Hawking crew found remains of ancient stations, and even their first working prototype of their warp drive. Obviously, this people wanted to preserve their exploits for future generations.
Initially, the scientists aboard the Hawking were puzzled as to why the Confederacy has the laws it does, as they thought that circumstances like the Hawking arriving in the confederacy was a fluke. That is until the delegation from Lanoo told them about the Crown Galaxy, their name for the Via Sagittaria. There are many hostile races in the Crown, and it was better to err on the side of caution in this case. The small cluster the Confederacy is located in is so tiny, it is thought that only sufficiently-advanced beings from the Crown Galaxy would be able to locate it, and this secrecy has served the Confederacy well so far, mostly because said species may not think the Jewel as very interesting due to its size and distance from the Crown.
Before the Hawking left to profile other planets within the Confederacy, the Captain of the Hawking gave the Grand Leader of the Confederacy a parting gift: a database of information which explained the universe outside of the Lanoir Cloud. This had appeared to chang the minds of those in charge a little bit, as a shift could be detected in the air - while initially having xenophobic tendencies, the Lanoir now saw that not all beings in the universe wanted to wipe the Lanoir Confederacy off the map, and they started to make reforms to their laws. However, change was rocky at best over the next few weeks, as most species within the Confederacy struggled to understand the dramatic shift in the status quo that has existed for thousands of years. Overall, the Captain was happy to have made their Universe a slightly better place.