Sand dunes moving across Tunisia will soon bury a set used in Star Wars Episode I, The Phantom Menace.
The city of Mos Espa on Tattooine, home to Anakin Skywalker, will be engulfed by a dune moving at 15 metres a year across the desert at some point over the next year. Its leading edge has already made contact with some of the buildings on the site, an is bearing down on Qui-Gon’s Alley.
The event is being used by researchers to study the speed of the wind-blown dunes, known as barchans. Sand is blown up the gentle windward slope before falling down the steep leeward slope.
As well as Tattooine/Tunisia, barchans have also been spotted on Mars and on Saturn’s moon Titan. By understanding their dynamics, it’s possible researchers could begin to design dwellings that funnel the sand around them, allowing dune fields to be settled.
The barchan is unlikely to be too bothered by the site it’s passing over, which will re-emerge from the sand in time.