New Devon, scientifically known as Kepler-22 b, is the second planet in the Kepler-22 star system, and the fourth object in that system. It is a large, pelagic world covered mostly in stormy oceans, dotted with rocky archipelagos. Its diverse indigenous biosphere is largely composed of marine life, though complex fauna and flora have existed on its island chains for over two hundred million years. It is the only world in Kepler-22 to possess an indigenous ecology. The evolution of life on New Devon is estimated to have occurred as early as 3 billion years ago, with complex life emerging in its seas half a billion years ago. Land-based ecology evolved around 210 to 250 million years ago, with arthropods and later amphibian life flourishing.
Like many terrestrial worlds, its lithosphere is composed mostly of a metallic and liquid metallic inner-outer core and a thick, solid rocky mantle, with a crust of silicates forming several rigid tectonic plates and migrate across the mantle. Its surface is dominated, however, by its deep world-ocean; oceanographers have determined that its depth extends to around 48 kilometers, and the ocean covers 86% of the surface. Its atmosphere, while composed mostly of nitrogen (71%), is rich in oxygen (29%) and water vapour (0.5%) due to both photolysis of the water surface and the ubiquitious presence of cyanobacteria and algae. Indeed, it is estimated that New Devon underwent an oxygenation event similar to that of Earth some two billion years ago due to the evolution of photosynthetic life, plunging the planet into an extended ice age that lasted 300 million years and saw the extinction almost all anaerobic life. Its temperature stabilised over time, in part due to the planet's size and native heat and in part due to the effects of undersea volcanism.Today, it has a mean surface temperature around 22° C. The planet itself is estimated to be around four billion years old, having forming in the habitable zone of its dim, sun-sized star Kepler-22.
New Devon was discovered in the early 21st century but did not become viable for colonisation until the early 2300s, when the Terran Federation developed spacecraft jump drives enabling them to travel at translight speeds (relative to their point of origin) without a pre-existing jump gate network at their destination. Originally referred to as its scientific name, the cursory similarity of the planet's native life to that of Earth in the Devonian period prompted the colonists to dub the world New Devon. The first settlers came in 2341, and established human colonies on the archipelagos; the initial settlement was wracked with problems due to the stormy weather endemic to New Devon's seas. Care was made to maintain the native ecology as much as possible, and colonists made breakthroughs in the sustainable exploitation of local marine fauna. However, the 2360s saw increased unrest which led to New Devon joining with other colony worlds to declare independence as the Orion Republic. The protracted Orionese War of Independence resulted in the recognition of the republic as an independent state in 2381. New Devon, as the epicentre of the rebellion, was made the republic's capital world. Over centuries, New Devon expanded its population and housed them in underwater arcologies, making use of much more of the world's surface area. While originally starting with a group of 50,000 settlers, the combination of high birth rates, relative domestic peace, a tolerable climate and readily-exploitable marine resources, and the use of ocean cities has seen the population grow to 29 billion.
In 3275, the Orionese state was abolished and New Devon was admitted as a member world of the Central Galactic Union, as the Principality of New Devon.