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The project's primary facility appears to have been Aquatic Base, a high-tech laboratory complex located beneath the waters of Kingdom Valley. Its duration is unspecified, but the game shows that the project ended in disaster some 10 years prior to the main events of the storyline.
The public face of the Solaris Project held it to be an energy research programme. During the cutscene when Shadow and Rouge arrive at the GUN rendezvous point in Kingdom Valley, Rouge explains the "official" version of events, stating "I hear a prototype energy engine failed, which caused the accident." In actuality, the Project's scope was far more ambitious: to achieve nothing less than control of time itself, through study and manipulation of a superdimensional phenomenon called the Flame of Hope - otherwise known as Solaris, worshipped as a sun god by the people of Soleanna.
The Duke of Soleanna is presumed to have been the driving force behind the Solaris Project (although Lord Regis states that he himself worked with the Duke on the programme). His exact motivations for conducting the dangerous research are uncertain. When shown talking about the project to his daughter Elise during a flashback at the end of Sonic '06, the Duke outlines a utopian vision of a timeline where humanity has erased its past mistakes; his exact words are: "...our world will change. Solaris will allow us to control time and move through history. People will be able to rectify past mistakes, and avoid bitter fate". However, when questioned by Elise, he significantly adds "Yes, Elise. We'll both be able to see your mother once again..." - a line which casts some doubts upon the Duke's supposedly selfless humanitarianism.
Failure and aftermath
When Shadow and Silver travel into the past during Sonic '06, they observe firsthand the disaster which violently curtailed the project. A spatial meltdown causes an explosion in Aquatic Base's control room, killing most of the technicians and mortally wounding the Duke. But even more ominously, the accident caused Solaris to split into two component facets, Mephiles and Iblis. Shadow and Silver were able to seal these two entities inside the Scepter of Darkness and a young Princess Elise respectively, preventing any further damage to the facility.
The Solaris Project's destruction also resulted in the abandonment of the immense Soleannean royal palace in Kingdom Valley. It isn't known precisely why the castle was abandoned, as the explosion witnessed by Silver and Shadow dosn't seem nearly violent enough to threaten either Aquatic Base or Kingdom Valley as a whole. It may be that cordoning off Kingdom Valley was more of a cover-up than a safety concern, to prevent the public from discovering the true nature of the Solaris Project: part time-travel experiment, part deicide.
Years later, and despite the cordon of official secrecy, Doctor Ivo Robotnik was able to learn of the Solaris Project. He went on to reproduce and surpass the work of the Duke; using a Chaos Emerald, rather than the energies of Solaris, within his system, the Doctor was able to build a working time machine in his base at White Acropolis. However, Eggman would admit to a captured Elise that in order to perfect his machine, he needs the Flames of Disaster - another name for Iblis, one of the sundered halves of Solaris.
Implications and paradox
In creating Iblis and Mephiles, the Solaris Project provided the primary antagonists for Shadow and Silver's Stories during Sonic '06 too. While Sonic's quest centers around thwarting Eggman's plans to twist the project's science towards his own nefarious goals, Shadow pursues (and is pursued by) Mephiles - a villainous and manipulative being who seems to embody Solaris' intelligence and cunning. Meanwhile, Silver and Blaze principally concern themselves with Iblis, a fire-creature which serves as a manifestation of Solaris' hunger and power.
As with all the events of Sonic '06, the Solaris Project is presumed erased from the timeline when Elise extinguishes the Flame of Hope at the very end of the game. How exactly the paradox resolves is unknown; however, it seems most likely that while the project was initiated in the revised timeline, the destruction of the Flame partway through meant that it could not continue, so the explosion witnessed by Silver and Shadow never occured, and the Duke was (probably) never killed.
In other media
Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie comics)
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|Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)