Came across this wonderful site while googling my conundrum, so this past question is definitely relevant; can a water cycle exist on a planet without oceans?
I'm looking for constructive criticism on the following scenario;
A steppe-world in the middle (1) of an ice age, with the northern and southern ice caps separated from the equator by twin mountain ranges (2). There are no significant bodies of water, at least none that can be identified by sight from orbit (3).
A colony ship has been forcefully crash landed right in the middle of the planet.
(ANSWERED)(1): Given that the ice caps cover 1/3 of the planet each, and assuming the required climate for the following questions, would this be at the beginning, middle or the end of an ice age? Does it really matter?
(ANSWERED)(2): Are the mountain ranges necessary at all to separate the ice caps from the steppe terrain? Is it possible to have a completely flat planet, say with the presence of multiple celestial brothers to intercept any terrain-changing asteroids? If it is, I will remove the mountain ranges all-together.
(ANSWERED) (3): If there are no oceans, where would the water collect?
Given that the colony ship is almost 6km in length and 1km in height, how realistic would it be for a rain trap to form on one side of the artificial mountain range, to ease farming? How large would the colony ship have to be to provide a significant rain trap?
Would there even be any rain on this planet? If there was, would it be possible to collect it via industrial means of condensation, as well as personal condensation machines located on the roof of every home?
(ANSWERED) How realistic would it be to force wheat agriculture (say, winter wheat varieties) to be the key export of the planet, as opposed to the herding of (imported) livestock? I'm hoping I can settle on a 50/50 split here, so the world can act as a lynchpin MRE production & export site.
Would it be realistic for the climate to be such that the planet experiences catastrophic wildfires that threaten the crop plantations? One of the central plot points is that they are catalysed by still-active ship shield sabotage in an effort to cripple the agriculture sector. Do steppes even have wildfires? Can you have a wildfire in an Ice Age?
Most importantly; given the temperature fluctuations, would there be any significant life-forms present, and in what form; would massive herbivores be more realistic than insect-sized species? Earth worms?
Considering the planet is all-steppe, would it be realistic for significant oil & gas reserves to be located under-ground? Doesn't the formation of Oil & Gas require something more than steppe grass?
(ANSWERED) Bonus Question: Am I correct in settling on a cloudless, warm days/cold nights weather pattern?
My thanks, and you guys have a great site, I'm thinking of going for a casual browse!