Saturday, July 20, 2013

That blows! Sand dunes move in on famed 'Star Wars' set


Scientists report that Anakin Skywalker's hometown is under attack -- not by Tusken Raiders but by the desert itself.

The sands of time might soon bury the sands of Tatooine.

Sand dunes blowing over the Tunisian desert are poised to cover a famous "Star Wars" film set that served as the backdrop for numerous scenes in "The Phantom Menace."

More than a dozen buildings, real and mocked up, still stand on the site of the fictional Mos Espa, where the young Anakin Skywalker grew up. But a team of scientists reports that mounds of wind-swept sand have made contact with some of the Mos Espa buildings, threatening to damage a popular geek landmark and tourist destination.

For the past several years, the scientists have used the fictional dwellings as a marker for measuring the migration of giant wind-blown, crescent-shaped sand ridges known as barchans, which are produced by wind moving predominantly from one direction. They visited the site located in the Tunisian region of Oung el Jemel in 2009, and noted that sands had already overcome part of a nearby set used in "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope."

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