How realistic are the terraformed planets in Destiny 2?

Destiny 2’s sci-fi future several hundred years from now includes a human race and a couple of human subspecies that will colonize the solar system as a whole. Miraculously, some of these planets that we can explore are alien worlds far beyond the realms of possibility … or are they?

The science behind terraforming is primarily a theoretical science that has yet to be executed by humanity, but has been widely explored in movies, such as the Alien universe, as well as in literature and television shows, such as The Expanse (one of best science programs (fi TV shows based on books). And, of course, also video games and board games (we’re looking at you, Terraforming Mars).

However, the Destiny 2 video game may have some more realistic renderings of what you might expect of what a terraformed planet would look like. So this is how each of the current planets in Destiny 2 stack up on how terraforming could transform these worlds.


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Landscape of Venus in Destiny 2. (Image credit: Bungie)

Seen briefly in Destiny 2 and a main destination in the first Destiny, Venus is a lush jungle world with almost constant storms and thick fog that keeps visibility to a minimum. While you’d think going outside in a Venus storm would mean your skin would be dissolved by acid rain, in Destiny’s case that’s not what happens.

In the Destiny timeline, the Traveler transformed the atmosphere of Venus into something similar to that of Earth, if the entire planet were a rainforest. The magical energies also blessed the planet with exotic plants and animal life, granting people the ability to breathe largely without difficulty in the open air. However, after the Traveler left and sometime after the Collapse – the cataclysmic event where a mysterious force nearly wiped out all of humanity in the solar system and the Traveler with it – Venus has become a harsher environment. with “… vents that exploded sulfuric gases” and electrical storms plaguing the skies above.

Barely habitable, Venus sits somewhere between a lush garden and the sickly yellow landscape that it once was. The efforts of the post-Collapse fleets portray some sort of project to restart or complete the terraforming of Venus, but this story has yet to bear real fruit. As in this video by Kurzgesagt explaining the terraforming process of Venus step by step, it appears that the Traveler changed the atmosphere of Venus by converting carbon dioxide through chemical reactions and cooled the planet to a point where the temperature was habitable. .

Then there was the miraculous blessing of the Light that advanced evolution over the course of a few centuries rather than millennia or eons, so life quickly appeared. At some point along the lines, the terraforming was stopped or reversed by something and Venus became this in-between world. So you could survive the atmospheric pressures of Venus, but you may not want to breathe the air for too long due to the excessive presence of sulfur in the air from geothermal vents.

On the surface, the planet makes a lot of sense with its yellow skies, rocky ground mixed with jungle life, and deserts in the fictional wastelands of Venus. What we see portrayed here in Destiny 2 is very similar to how little we’ve seen of the real-life surface of Venus, thanks to various space missions like the Soviet Venera-13. The mix of fantasy and realistic renderings of this otherwise wicked landscape gives Bungie’s rendering of a colonized Venus some pretty good perspective, the apocalypse beyond our galaxy to hell.


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Landscape of Mars in Destiny 2. (Image credit: Bungie)

Appearing in both Destiny and Destiny 2, until the launch of the Beyond Light expansion in 2020, Mars was the classic desert destination that video games are known for. Strong windstorms whip through the ruined buildings, red sand dunes piled high in the streets, and a pale white sky as noon in Death Valley paints a rather bleak picture for this planet.

Although the first scene in Destiny 2014 showed the Traveler terraforming Mars by introducing an atmosphere and even rain, the relentless winds and sands did not recede at all. Even centuries after the initial colonization of Mars, Destiny 2 shows constant harsh winds and desert conditions despite a habitable atmosphere for humans. Plant life was present at least at some point, with petrified trees and weeds scattered throughout the environment.

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Landscape of Mars at night in Destiny 2 (note vegetation). (Image credit: Bungie)

Comparing the conditions of a terraformed Mars to what we’ve seen on real-life expeditions to the red planet, it’s entirely feasible that a somewhat failed terraforming of Mars would look like Destiny portrays it. No matter how much you make it rain, red dirt would be pretty much everywhere because of all the iron on the surface of the ground. Images from high-profile missions such as the Curiosity rover or the Viking lander show a desert landscape with reddish, rocky soil and a bright sky during the day. Comparatively, it is a very accurate translation of what a terraformed Mars might look like. The desert surroundings represent a livable, but somewhat bleak environment that could quickly overtake any civilization if neglected for too long due to excessive weathering.


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(Image credit: Bungie)

Europa, the smallest Galilean moon of Jupiter, is the newest destination to be featured in the Destiny 2 Beyond Light expansion, released in November 2020. Probably one of Destiny’s most important destinations, Europe is an arid arctic environment swirling with strong winds. and ice storms. Weather-damaged outposts dot the landscape, ruined by neglect or destroyed by the ongoing conflict. Although the Traveler did not terraform this moon, that did not stop the various organizations on Earth from coming to Europe to discover the many secrets of this world.

The little we know about Europe is fascinating. Jupiter’s true icy moon appears to host liquid oceans, possibly real water, covered with a thick layer of water ice. The red veins seen in NASA images of Europa indicate the presence of heavy minerals in the ice. Europa in Destiny 2 also shows similar reddish hues in chunks of ice around explorable areas, which is consistent with our own real-life discoveries. Some studies also hypothesize that Europa could harbor some form of life in its liquid oceans given the right conditions.


NASA image of red veins found in Europa. (Image credit: NASA)

The representation of Europe in Destiny 2 is based on real ideas mixed with some artistic license. For example, constant snowstorms are a great tool for conveying mood in the video game, but there is actually no observable wind in Europe. Facilities like the Braytech and Deep Stone Crypt laboratories would likely be the way we could live in Europe in the long term, with buildings penetrating the ice and using the ice’s content to generate oxygen for the air to breathe. Buildings would be sealed off with air locks and climate control systems would help create livable conditions for people.

Sci-fi fact vs science fiction

While many of Bungie’s renderings of these places are largely fantastic ideas of colonized worlds blessed by some space magic, they have clearly done their homework here on how to create viable living spaces in these harsh environments. It can be said that real thought has been put into the backstory, weaving existing interpretations of how humanity would colonize these worlds using advanced technology, as well as what a little help from an omniscient being would do.

It’s safe to say that Bungie knows what they’re up to when it comes to combining science and fantasy; after all, they are the original creators of the famous military sci-fi Halo franchise, which has been going strong for 20 years. His descriptions of a future beyond our grasp are based on real science and Destiny 2 reveals what strikes us as a great execution of what our efforts outside of Earth would look like (failures and all). Of course, there are a few embellishments to generate a little more excitement and interest, but this has helped create this unique Destiny universe that is definitely worth exploring.

If you want to learn more about Destiny 2, then you will want to read the science behind the Lorentz Driver weapon from Destiny 2. If that hasn’t quenched your thirst for knowledge, also check out the 5 Most Realistic Space Movies and see how scientifically accurate they really are.

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