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The Star Wars Tatooine set is in danger of disappearing for good

Back in May, a photographer who had been fooling around on Google Earth visited the decrepit remains of what turned out to be one of George Lucas’ sets from Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Called Mos Espa in the movie, the Tunisian set has been a popular tourist destination for fans, even showing up as part of vacation packages booked through nearby hotels.

But anyone who's hoping to visit the set will have to act fast: Scientists say nearby sand dunes will soon cover it entirely. One of the larger dunes has already started encroaching on the 10,000 square meter area, and is advancing about four more centimeters per day. (That may not sound like a lot, but it works out to about 50 meters of new sand each year.)

The eventual loss of Tatooine will also hurt Tunisia’s tourism industry, as the set is one of the few things that brings visitors to its part of the hot Sahara desert. CNN says that locals hope the area could be part of the new Star Wars movies; when The Phantom Menace and Attack Of The Clones filmed there, the production hired about 1,500 background actors and dumped money into the local economy for about two and a half months.  

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