The Sarma System was a minor Arachnid outpost until it was conquered by the Tech Infantry in the early 2200's. Settled as a commercial colony focused on being a conduit for trade with the K'Nes and Jurvain, with a secondary emphasis on mining, the system was one of the founding members of the Frontier Worlds Territory. Late in the Third Civil War, the K'Nes and Jurvain allied with each other to pounce upon the FWT, believing the Federation unable to respond after losing so many ships in the bloody Battle of Avalon. A K'Nes fleet moved on Sarma and occupied the system with little resistance, most of the FWT's military being stranded in the Arachnid Quarantine Zone fighting a hopeless crusade against the Bugs.
The K'Nes were pleased to control this system, because it is abundant in minerals that are in low quantities on their homeworld. Additionally, some of the rock formations found in the desert regions of Sarma IV-D closely resemble some of their ancient religous stones and monuments surrounding thier temples. Along with Andersvald, this system was conquered by the Earth Federation in the late 2240's. Merchants from the Earth Federation returned and once again began acquiring rare minerals and abundant fossil fuels. The unusual rock formations with religious significance to the K'Nes were left intact in hopes of generating future tourist revenue from pilgrims and tourists, both K'Nes and otherwise.
After the Caal Invasion, Sarma was one of the frontier worlds nearly abandoned by the Federation military, first to face the Caal, then to fight the emergence of the Holy Terran Empire and Terran Republic. Fearful of alien invasion, religious-inspired riots, and mutual resentment between unawakened and awakened humans over the Draft and other discriminatory Federation policies led to the rise of the Ministry of Public Safety, which eventually restored order. When the Ministry agreed to be re-absorbed into the Federation, minor rioting broke out in the Sarma system, but not as bad as it was on New Tokyo or the former Christian Federation worlds to the north. As the Federation crumbled once more, the Jurvain invaded, seizing the Sarma system in a lightning strike. Once the Holy Terran Empire emerged victorious in the Ascension War, the Jurvain traded Sarma to them on the diplomatic negotiation table in exchange for a permanent peace treaty recognizing their independence. House Mesa was formed to govern this world, and moved in to administrate it.
Sarma's sole inhabited planet is actually a large desert moon that orbits as the fourth moon of a gas giant planet similar in size to Saturn called Sarma IV, also known informally as "Atredies". Atreides' orbit is much closer to its sun than Saturn is to Sol. The rotational velocity of Sarma around the gas giant is rapid enough to allow the planet to stay hot during periods when it is eclipsed by the larger planet. These factors allow the plant to be actually much hotter than Earth, despite having a thinner atmosphere due to the slightly lower gravity, and much less greenhouse effect due to low levels of water vapor.
Millions of years ago, this planet was a terran world with lush plants and animals, but a massive asteroid struck the planet and cast millions of tons of debris into the atmosphere which resulted in their mass extinction. In addition, the asteriod slightly increased the planet's rotational velocity around Atreides and altered the planets rotational axis. This resulted in a permanent drastic increase in the planet's average temperature. Ecologically, the result was the formation of massive desserts covering the entire globe except the small polar regions which are now covered in snow, frozen lakes, and a very thin and sparse areas of tundra. Another result of the mass extinction millions of years ago is that there is now an abundant supply fossil fuels in addition to the rare gems, precious metals and diamonds that were already present.
The population of this system varied with the stage of the Federations economic cycle. Most of the time the population hovers around 2 million during strong economic times. Roughly 1.5 million lived in the northern polar region where the moon's only city, St. Nicholas, is located. A major reason, for this concentration of civilians is the ample supply of water from the frozen lakes. The remaining population is dispersed throughout the rest of the moon drilling for oil and mining for metals. It is important to note that while the demand for fossil fuels has fallen due to the development of vastly more efficient forms of energy for transportation, fossil fuels are in demand for petrochemical feedstocks needed for the production of plastics, fertillizers, and certain medicines, as well as fuel for collectors of classic vehicles such as ancient cars. A few tens of thousands of people live on orbital habitats, asteroid mining facilities, or other off-surface accomodations in the system. With the closing of the jumpgates and a vast reduction in trade with the neighboring alien races, this system faced tough economic times, and the population fell to just under a million all told, nearly all on Sarma IV-D.
Many K'Nes scholars wonder it is more than coincidence that the mysterious stone obelisks found on this planet are so similar to ancient K'nes religious monuments. Some speculate that this world was once home to a sister race to the K'Nes, others that the K'Nes Gods brought acolytes here from the Jurvain homeworld as a reward or punishment long ago. Human scientists speculate that some ancient and vanished advanced alien race might have kidnapped Jurvain and others and brought them here for study. Regardless, even those obelisks which are in the way of proposed mining operations are protected by laws as a cultural treasure (and potential tourist goldmine).