If there’s one thing that Bungie is maintaining through out Destiny‘s lifespan, it’s the mystery. They’ve shrouded the lore, the events within the game, the locations, and most of the characters in a haze of ambiguity – a decision that received equal parts negative and positive responses. One specifically shrouded location is the Black Garden, the gate to which is found on Mars. While Ghost says that it’s not on any map of known space or time, Craig Hardgrove, a NASA scientist and geologist, says differently.
During a Ride Along with DeeJ, Hardgrove, and Destiny World Artist Jason Sussman, Hardgrove spends plenty of time pointing out Bungie’s attention to detail in Mars’ terrain – specifically the rock formations and erosion.
At one particular point (28:10), he notes that there’s specific horizontal layering in the rocks at one location, suggesting that the rocks were eroded as a river once flowed through the middle and formed the rock formation seen in the game. Hardgrove, who also has a PhD in Geology, also notes that the rock formation may in fact be volcanic rock, which would make sense given Mars’ volcano, Olympus Mons.
Interestingly, they go through the portal into the Black Garden later in the video (48:00), where Hardgrove asks Sussman if they’re still on Mars, to which Sussman replies, cryptically:
“So… Um.. Well… I wanna say so many things! We’ll just leave that a mystery for now.”
Hardgrove then takes matters into his own hands and examines the rock formations around the entrance, and suggests:
“Since I pointed out the layered rocks on Mars, as a Geologist, I would look back here at these rocks and be like ‘those look like the same rocks’, so we’re still on Mars. That’s what I’m going with. Geologically speaking, we’re still on Mars.”
This suggestion is especially interesting, given that Destiny itself identifies new areas within the Black Garden as ‘Meridian Bay, Mars’, and the player ‘teleports’ back to Mars at the end of the mission.
Hardgrove also points out (57:55) that the giant rock at the centre of the Black Garden looks incredibly similar to the ‘Devil’s Postpile”, which is the hardened interior of a volcano. While Sussman confirmed their artists used such landmarks as references when designing the area, Hardgrove goes on to theorise that the Black Garden could well be in Olympus Mons on Mars (or in the volcano on Venus, if they were teleported across the solar system).
What do you think? Was the Black Garden on Mars all along? Or did the Vex pull a sleight of hand and transport the Guardians to another planet and time?