Vulcan was roughly twelve parsecs away from any other colony. The atmosphere was breathable by humans. It had very little radiation and the average temperature was 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees F). It was a young, volcanic world, with nutrient-rich soil, but with no native life. It had pools of fuming mercury. Vulcan's day was several hours shorter than Earth's.
Vulcan was colonised after humans discovered the mineral riches of the planet. The planet was owned and the mining operations were funded by the Interplanetary Mining Corporation. (PROSE: The Power of the Daleks) It was the third such colony. The human colony was almost taken over by Daleks, who had been found in a crashed spacecraft underground and then reactivated by a scientist called Lesterson. (TV: The Power of the Daleks)
The Daleks that survived this encounter with the Doctor were classified as insane and were sent to the "intensive care" section of the Dalek Asylum. These Daleks were later destroyed when the Dalek Parliament blew up the planet. (TV: Asylum of the Daleks)
Coincidentally, the name Vulcan was also given to the home planet of Spock in the Star Trek television series, as indicated by Donna Noble's comparing of the Tenth Doctor's attempt to read a possessed Nazi soldier's mind with something a Vulcan (namely Spock) would do. (AUDIO: The Nemonite Invasion)
On one occasion, the Eleventh Doctor recalled memories of his fourth incarnation meeting up with Spock and the command crew of the USS Enterprise to combat a Cyberman invasion of Aprilia III in a parallel universe in the 23rd century. (COMIC: Assimilation²)
Behind the scenes
- Scientists of the 19th and 20th centuries hypothesised the existence of a planet between the orbit of Mercury and Sol, and sometimes referred to that planet as Vulcan. This theory has since been discredited. PROSE: The Taking of Planet 5 makes reference to this.
- As noted above, the Star Trek character Spock came from the fictional planet Vulcan. Star Trek only just beat Doctor Who in introducing the concept of an alien world called Vulcan by a few weeks, as it debuted not quite two months before The Power of the Daleks aired. Both shows seem to have selected the name independently.