Memory Alpha
Memory Alpha

Kataan was a formerly inhabited planet in the Kataan star system. This system was located within the Silarian sector. It was a dead world, home to a humanoid culture until the late 14th century when, after suffering through a protracted drought due to increased solar radiation, all life on the planet became extinct.

A tree being planted on the Ressikan town square

At the time of its demise the culture of Kataan appeared to be on the cusp of post-industrial evolution. Though there was no strong evidence of heavy manufacturing and the lifestyle of its citizens more closely resembled a pre-industrial agrarian society; they were sufficiently evolved enough to create interstellar probes but could not send people into space.

A typical greeting on the planet was "Happy day"; a standard set phrase when leaving was "Go carefully". When a child was born, a naming ceremony took place shortly after birth. People on Kataan were interested in astronomy, art, botany, mathematics, and many other things; iron weaver and sculptor were only two of the many professions possible. The houses were arranged around open spaces and town squares where sparse vegetation was growing. Every house, window, and door was decorated with Kataan writing.

The probe is launched

Typical foods consumed by the natives were soups and vegetable stew. Water had to be rationed as less and less was available.

Councils, led by council leaders, decided about the fate of their communities; an administrator was responsible for several communities. The government was structured in a participatory manner, in which all citizens had a say.

During the final years of its existence, the people of the Ressik community, located in the northern province, realized that their sun was about to go nova. The death of the planet was predicted by scientists in the government but hidden from the population at large. They launched a probe containing a memory record of their civilization and a musical instrument, the Ressikan flute, native to their culture.

This probe later encountered Jean-Luc Picard and transferred its memory record to him. (TNG: "The Inner Light")

According to the episode's script, the planet was pronounced "K'-TAHN".
The Star Trek Encyclopedia (4th ed., vol. 1, p. 403) classified Kataan as a class M planet.