Correct me if I'm wrong, or if humans have terraformed the planet by the time you're reading this, but Mars is mostly desert-like. It has large ice caps which contain most of its water, and the rest of the planet is basically dry rock and dust. If you want water when you're on Mars, your best bet is to get a pickaxe and put some ice chunks into your mouth to melt.
I like desert planets. They have a desolate feel to them which is extremely appealing, and they make for interesting story ideas. The only thing is, I don't want Mars's low temperature. In fact, I want equatorial regions to be at Sahara/Death Valley temperatures. You know, an archetypical scorching desert.
My question here is: can a planet have such a dramatic temperature difference so that the poles are covered in permanent ice, and yet have hot deserts at the equator, and what are the effects of this temperature gradient?
I'm not including information such as planetary radius, mass, volume, distance from sun, composition, and atmosphere for the simple reason that I have no idea what parameters are necessary for such a world to form. Feel free to use whatever values you want. However, I've included a list of restraints below, because there are certain attributes I want this planet to have in order to be viable in a story.
This planet should be around the size of Earth.
Not sure if this matters, but there's no moon. There are rings, though.
The planet should be desert all of the way through, with little to no bodies of liquid water.
The ice should be easily accessible, i.e. not separated from the rest of the planet by impassable mountains.
If possible, there should be extensive aquifers in the upper temperate region.
There should be very strong winds on this planet, which means slower rotation.
The planet has minimal axial tilt.
Conditions in the temperate region should be survivable for lifetimes.
There should be naturally occurring life, for instance in karstic aquifers.
From outer space, the planet should resemble Mars.
If it's possible, there should be something profitable about this planet, linked to the temperature or ice. Think melange, but formed by hot/cold.
Finally, and arguably most importantly, handwaving should be kept at a minimum. I want there to be enough realism and gory details to write an uber-accurate encyclopedia on this planet.