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Geologists Use Mos Espa Set In Tunisia To Track Shifting Desert Landscape

Posted by Eric on July 23, 2013 at 04:18 PM CST

The dusty Tatooine city of Mos Espa may have been abandoned for several years, but Anakin Skywalker's old stomping grounds are serving a new purpose for scientists who have published a paper about the behavior of migrating sand dunes in the Tunisian desert. In case "migrating sand dunes" sound like something out of Star Wars, here's an explanation of the dunes, which are called barchans, courtesy of The Atlantic:

Barchans are something like movable mountains: they tend to migrate in the same direction as the desert winds, going, literally, where the wind takes them. Which has made them something of an enigma to scientists: How do you measure the movement of sand upon sand upon sand? How do you know how far the barchans are traveling when it's so hard to tell where the mounds end and the ground begins?
Enter the old Tatooine city set. A group of geologists have discovered that the Mos Espa site "now lies between the arms of a large 'pudgy' barchan dune." They're using satellite photos of the stationary set to track the barchans' movement, and their discoveries have even led to a paper published in the scholarly journal Geomorphology.

We've included one of the satellite photos of the Mos Espa set above. Head over to The Atlantic for more information and photos.

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