Sand dunes will soon bury the fictional city Mos Espa from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, sited in the Tunisian desert.
Ralph Lorenz, from Johns Hopkins University, US, together with Jason Barnes, of Brigham Young University, and Nabil Gasmi, of the University of Sousse, Tunisia, visited the Mos Espa site in 2009, and noted that part of a nearby set used in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope had already been overrun.
Using satellite images of the site, they were able to determine the speed of dune movement, which is approaching the buildings once inhabited by such luminaries as Anakin, his slave owner Watto, and rival podracer Sebulba.
Moving at around 15m a year, the front edge of the barchan appears to have made contact with some of the Mos Espa buildings earlier this year, and is encroaching on Qui-Gon’s Alley.
The barchan will likely continue on its journey past the city site, which in due course will re-emerge from the sand, but it is anticipated that it will not remain unscathed.
(This is a different set than fans raised money to restore.)
[Thanks to Petréa Mitchell for the story.]