Phobos, located in the Sol system, is one of the moons of Mars and was originally home to a penal colony when it was originally exploited for its valuable mineral wealth. Today it is home to a thriving, if small Sol Central Government-run colony, with a focus on government shipbuilding and logistics for the inner Sol system. Outside of its relatively stable, well protected capital of Esteredge there exist numerous criminal "free colonies" that make up a minority criminal element on the moon.
Although the presence of Phobos had been known for centuries with many drones and manned expeditions being sent to it in the past it wasn't until the late 22nd century when this moon was actually colonised. The reasons for this colonisation occurring so late in the history of human expansion were many, mostly to do with an initial lack of available funds to support a possible colonisation project on a location with little strategic importance, size or worth.
Eventually the decision was taken to utilise Phobos as a penal colony, when both Earth and Mars' local governments decided to take advantage of prison labour to exploit the mineral wealth of the moon. Criminals, mainly from Earth and Mars, would sent to the colony to mine and, for a few decades, this was the only activity on Phobos. In the 23rd century, a number of corporations decided to undertake a private colonisation project in order to have direct access to the mineral wealth of the moon.
Because of Phobos' relatively small size and the focused, narrow objectives of any colony projects space was utilised efficiently, and with minimal expansion outside of a central location. This colony, called Esteredge, offered decent living conditions and access to artificial gravity, something that the penal colony lacked. The work and experience opportunities offered by the colony and its proximity to Earth and Mars attracted a great deal of interested, motivated employees to the corporate-run colony. An unintended and undesired consequence of the new corporate colony was that it had a tendency to become the permanent residence of many former inmates at the SCG penal colony on Phobos, contributing to a culture of criminality that only increased over time.
For much of the 23rd century, this cycle persisted and mining operations continued to be economically viable. However, in the latter stages of the century the vast majority of easily accessible mineral deposits were exhausted, resulting in a slowdown and shrinking of mining operations. This led to a diversification and shift in Phobos' economy, with the focus of the colony shifting away from mining and into supply, logistics, storage and docking related matters, owing to its proximity to Mars.
In the present day the penal colony on Phobos has been scaled back massively and is now only used to house a handful of criminals, no longer being a viable or profitable location to maintain a large prison labour force. The last few decades also saw the release of corporate control of the colony of Esteredge with it coming under the full jurisdiction and operation of the Sol Central Government. As of 2309 Phobos remains a relatively stable, if small and insignificant colony with a constant flux of long and short term residents.
Give its small size and insignificant population Phobos lacks direct representation on the Solar Assembly and is instead administered directly by the SCG, who are responsible for both Esteredge and the original penal colony. Esteredge itself is managed by a colonial administrator, a civil servant appointed by the Sol Central Government along with their direct subordinate who is responsible for the correctional facility.
Although local law enforcement entities exist, the SCG and Mars are responsible for the defence of Phobos which is also home to a small, permanent garrison and a number of permanently docked vessels from the First Fleet. This makes Phobos incredibly well-protected, with a strong civilian law and military presence in the main colony of Esterege. Outside of this, however, criminality is rampant in a great number of the small, "free" settlements that dot the moon.
Phobos is a tiny moon in a close orbit with mars. Given its history as a penal colony much of the surface is covered in the unused, abandoned remains of closed down sections of the facility. Terraforming, not being a viable option for Phobos, has instead seen much of the colony of Esteredge built with biodomes, with much of the settlement also being placed underground, similar to Martian undercities. Esteredge's population, being approximately 18,000, is beginning to cause issues in the colony as it has reached its habitable capacity.
Culturally speaking, Phobos is somewhat diverse, though most of the population consists of humans hailing from Earth and Mars. Alien presence on the colony is minimal and often temporary, with many of the humans being xenophobic, though there are cordial relations in some places.
Owing to the needed diversification of Phobos' economy after mining operations slowed down, the people of Phobos can be found in a number of professions, mainly relating to the service industry, with many colonists being mechanics, technicians and engineers in the docks of Phobos, handling government and corporate vessels alike. The colony also sees a great deal of trade and the short-stay hotel business is booming, thanks to the presence of the large space ports that surround the colony. Phobos' presence as a stop-off and logistical centre for Mars' and Earth's external trade give it vital importance, and the cash flow of the colony reflects that.
Mining operations continue on the moon, though they are greatly diminished and not as vital as they were historically. Underground hydroponics farms factor greatly into the colonies economy also and allow for a measure of self-sufficiency of Esteredge. The colony is also home to a sizeable shipbuilding sector with numerous dry-docks operated directly by the Sol Central Government for its Fleet and Expeditionary Corps space vessel interests, giving it great strategic importance and notable industrial output. On the medical front colony medical services are acceptable and in line with much of the rest of the SCG. The same cannot be said for education, with the colony lacking any significant educational establishments apart from junior and secondary education.