Dune May Obliterate Darth Vader's Childhood Home

Star Wars set threatened by sand: scientists

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 22, 2013 9:14 AM CDT | Updated Jul 27, 2013 7:16 AM CDT

(Newser) – Poor Anakin Skywalker: First he turns into Darth Vader, and now his childhood home is about to be eaten by a wind-blown sand dune. The Tunisia set for the Tatooine city of Mos Espa in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is expected to soon be buried by the oncoming dune, say scientists, whose observation is more than just a bit of Hollywood trivia. They've actually used the set as a stationary reference point in their study of barchans, or crescent-shaped dunes, the BBC reports. Satellite images have shown the US- and Tunisia-based scientists that this particular barchan is chugging along at a rate of about 50 feet per year.

Per tourism photos taken this year, it looks to be already touching the edge of the set, which wouldn't be the first to suffer such a fate: A neighboring site that featured in Star Wars Episode IV was blanketed in sand in 2003, the Independent notes. The good news for Star Wars fans: "Given the importance of this site to the tourism industry of Tunisia, it may be that it is a candidate for mitigation measures [like constructing fences], not being pursued at present," the scientists say. And if nothing is done to stop it, the dune should keep going after it covers the city, bringing Mos Espa once again to light—though probably with some damage. (Click for another tale of desert woe.)

The barchan approaching Mos Espa.   (Google Earth)
In this publicity photo released by Lucasfilm Ltd., actor Jake Lloyd portrays Anakin Skywalker, a young Darth Vader, in "Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace."   (AP Photo/Lucasfilm Ltd., file)
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