The fictional city of Mos Espa from Star Wars: Episode 1, located in the real Tunisian Desert, is slowly being devoured by a sand dune.

The set, which was built for the 1999 prequel, was left standing and is a popular tourist destination.

Scientists have also been using the set — made up of real and mocked-up structures — to measure the migration of barchans, giant crescent-shaped sand dunes that move across the desert propelled by wind. The researchers authored a paper, "Dunes on Planet Tatooine: Observation of Barchan Migration at the Star Wars film set in Tunisia," which CNET reports was accepted for publication in a Geomorphology journal. Among their findings is the revelation that earth barchans move ten times faster than on Mars.

According to the Independent, however, the Tunisian government may step in to save the set.

“Given the importance of this site to the tourism industry of Tunisia, it may be that it is a candidate for mitigation measures, not being pursued at present... These could include erecting fences or walls, bulldozing the approaching dune (which would take considerable effort and would have to be repeated with each oncoming dune), or moving the site out of the path of the dunes.”

[via, image via Shutterstock]