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.]
No doubt in a few years it will be buried like the “lost city of Tanis” in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Did Mos Espy have a Map Room?
“Banthas! Why did it have to be banthas?!?”
Nature’s revenge for THE PHANTOM MENACE and those two other films. And Jar Jar. Let Mother Nature win this one.
Ralph D. Lorenz, a planetary scientist, engineer, and author, is a man of many remarkable accomplishments. But in getting a paper about Tatooine published in a peer-reviewed geology journal, he has surpassed himself. I am filled with admiration.
ObFandom: Ralph was Scientist Guest of Honor, along with his wife Elizabeth Turtle, at Cryptic Confusion near Detroit in 2009.