Tunisian Desert Dunes Threaten Darth Vader’s Tatooine Home

Star Wars set, desert, Tunisia, North Africa, geology, dunes, Darth Vader's home, Tatooine, Mos Espa, The Phantom MenaceStar Wars fans lovingly restored Luke Skywalker’s Tatooine home in Tunisia recently, but the former home of young Anakin, who would eventually become Darth Vader, is about to be engulfed by fast-moving desert sand dunes.

Star Wars set, desert, Tunisia, North Africa, geology, dunes, Darth Vader's home, Tatooine, Mos Espa, The Phantom Menace

The buildings of Mos Espa, a fictional city that appeared in Episode I of the Jedi series directed by George Lucas, The Phantom Menace, is used by geologists as a measuring stick that allows them to keep track of dune movement in the Tunisian desert, according to BBC News.

Because Tatooine is so popular among Star Wars fans, the researchers had a great stock of online images to use to monitor the site when they were unable to visit in person.

When Ralph Lorenz from Johns Hopkins University, Jason Barnes from the University of Idaho, and Nabil Gasmi  the University of Sousse, Tunisia, toured the site together in 2009, they discovered that a set used in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope had already been partially overrun.

They published their findings in the online journal Geomorphology.

Star Wars set, desert, Tunisia, North Africa, geology, dunes, Darth Vader's home, Tatooine, Mos Espa, The Phantom Menace

Mos Espa is heading in the same direction, as dunes are ploughing through the desert at a rate of roughly 15 meters per year, which is ten times faster than they move on Mars, BBC News reports.

Like crescent-shaped sand waves, the dunes shift in a rolling movement. The wind blows sand to the back of the dune and eventually spills over to the steep front slope.

The front edge of the dune reached Mos Espa earlier this year, the researchers report, and are beginning to inch  towards Qui-Gon alley.

Called a “pudgy” barchan, this kind of dune also appears on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon.

Star Wars sites generate a certain amount of income for local Berbers, but the buildings at Mos Espa are likely to be damaged once they emerge from the dune as it continues its migration.

Perhaps Star Wars fans will come to their rescue?

The images show the dune’s progression towards Mos Espa

:: BBC News

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