Located less than twenty light years from the Sol system, Terra Nova was an inhabited M class planet with two moons. As their first colony outside of the solar system, Terra Nova was colonized by Humans in 2078, who later referred to themselves as Novans. There were several native animal species on the planet, including a type of burrowing animal, referred to by the Novans as a Digger, as well as flying animals. (ENT: "Terra Nova")
By 2069, Humans had already established themselves within their own solar system, having founded New Berlin on the Moon, Utopia Planitia on Mars, and a few asteroid colonies. Deep space became the next frontier for the species, and the question began to be asked: "Could Humans colonize deep space?"
Terra Nova was discovered in the mid-21st century by the Space Agency. Due to its proximity to Earth, the decision was made to establish a colony on the planet. The success of such a colony was considered uncertain from the start, and the expedition became known as "the Great Experiment."
The journey to Terra Nova from Earth would take nine years at the warp speeds attainable in that period. The SS Conestoga was commissioned for the task, and was specially constructed so that it could be dismantled on arrival to serve as homes and service buildings for the colony.
The Conestoga arrived at her destination on 23 June, 2078. Captain Mitchell oversaw the groundbreaking for the colony shortly thereafter. The very first transmissions from the colony were broadcast on Earth and the population watched these transmissions.
The colony proved to be amazingly successful, a fully-functioning community on a world in deep space. Earth grew interested in repeating the experience. Working from the position that "nothing succeeds like success," in 2083 the heads of the Space Agency announced their intentions to launch a second colony vessel full of colonists to Terra Nova.
The colonists already living on Terra Nova were not amenable to the idea of now having to share the home they'd struggled to build. An organized opposition arose, led by a man named Mark Logan. Relations with Earth became severely strained, culminating with Logan transmitting threats of violence upon any ships that entered the planet's orbit.
That was the last message received from Terra Nova; Earth lost contact with the colony shortly thereafter. The Space Agency decided that it didn't have the resources to launch an investigation, and it was decided that the fate of the Terra Nova colony would have to remain a mystery. (ENT: "Terra Nova")
In 2151, a landing party from Enterprise NX-01 discovered the irradiated remains of the colony, and it was determined that the colony had been destroyed by an asteroid impact, scattering toxic debris over the hemisphere.
However, the children of the original colonists had survived the asteroid impact, and had taken refuge in underground caverns and tunnels in order to avoid the radioactive surface. The original colonists believed that Earth had attacked them because of the hostile nature of their last transmissions, an impression shared by their 22nd century descendants still living on the planet.
The Novans, as they called themselves, subsequently took members of the landing party hostage. Eventually the Enterprise crew was able to gain the trust of the Novans, convincing them that Earth was not responsible for destroying the original colony. As the underground water supply the Novans used to survive had slowly become contaminated by the surface radiation, the Novan population was eventually relocated to a region unaffected by the asteroid impact. (ENT: "Terra Nova")
"Terra Nova" is Latin for "New Earth". The name of the planet also served as the name of the episode.
According to Star Trek: Star Charts:
- Pages 18-19: The Terra Nova's system was named Terra Nova (Eta Cassiopeiae). It was a binary system with a pair of G-class stars. This system was located in the Terra Nova Sector (Sector 003). This was the third sector explored by Earth ships.
- Page 32: This planet was the third planet in the Terra Nova (Eta Cassiopeiae) system. The colony was founded in 2087, and was admitted to the United Federation of Planets in 2178. The colony was governed from the capital of Logan City, and had a population of 347,000 Novans (Humans) in 2378.
- Page 45: This planet was a destination on the Earth and Vulcan trade routes in the 22nd century. Terra Nova Colony (Eta Cassiopeiae) was in the Alpha Quadrant.
- United Federation of Planets III: By 2378, the name of the planet had changed to Terra Nova.
According to Federation: The First 150 Years, the Terra Nova colony was located around the star 61 Cygni A, a real star 11.4 light years from Earth. However, the Star Trek: Star Charts (pp. 18-19) establishes that system as the location of Tellar.