TV & Movies

Why Does Galen Erso Have a Moisture Farm in Rogue One?

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

In the beginning of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, we see Krennic’s ST 149 shuttle landing near the farm of Galen Erso. We’re then greeted with an iconic image from Star Wars films of the past, a field of moisture vaporators, which longtime fans will recognize as a visual nod to Uncle Owen’s farm on Tatooine from A New Hope.

But wait.

In A New Hope, Tatooine is a desert planet. Since we can assume water is a scarcity across the whole planet, capturing it and selling it would be a hot commodity. So moisture farming makes a whole lot of sense, right?

Tatooine Moisture Farm

But what about the Erso family?

The Ersos, at the beginning of Rogue One, occupy a homestead on the planet Lah’mu in the Outer Rim. If this Wookieepedia entry is to be trusted, Lah’mu is a planet with few occupants (at this point in Star Wars history, there are fewer than 500 inhabitants) and a lot of water.

The “a lot of water” thing is confirmed in an early shot of Krennic’s ship soaring over what appears to be an ocean.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

It’s probably safe to assume the moisture vaporators on Lah’mu would be collecting enormous amounts of water compared to those on Tatooine, and it’s also probably safe to assume that this water has very little value aside from drinking it. There’s a ton of it here, and there’s no one to sell it to.

We do see a row of moisture vaporators lining what we can assume to be fields of crops.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

So these are probably capturing moisture from the atmosphere and using it to water the crops. But why is that necessary? This planet is clearly not dry; the gloomy sky suggests a moist atmosphere. By the time Galen walks out to meet Krennic, this guy is absolutely drenched.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

And that cave where Jyn hides from the Shadow Troopers is shrouded in mist.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

On Lah’mu, the air is so damp that it just starts condensing on things, meaning that a rock out in the field would sweat like a glass of cold lemonade on a summer’s day. You could argue that maybe the moisture is filled with toxins, but then why do so many of the characters wander around willy-nilly without protective gear?

Now, the Rogue One: Ultimate Visual Guide has a useful clue (which we stumbled upon thanks to Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange user Nathaniel):

Galen Erso Moisture Vaporator

The atmospheric moisture is full of zinc, chlorine, iron, cobalt, nitrogen, and boron, which “makes the groundwater unpleasant to drink.” Okay, so Lah’mu’s water is filled with stuff that needs to be removed before it’s suitable for drinking.

But why would they need so many vaporators interspersed among their crops, as in the image I posted above? If the water is full of all those impurifications, those almost certainly exist in Lah’mu’s soil. Since the crops are growing in that soil, they’re clearly fine with a little zinc and chlorine.

Perhaps they’re non-native crops, grown in non-native soil, and they require non-native water in order to grow. Okay. But this is a planet that clearly has vegetation. When you look at those steep hills, they’re covered in green. Isn’t there a single form of vegetation on this planet that’s edible or produces some sort of edible fruit? Keep in mind that plants typically reproduce by producing things that animals use, whether it’s pollen collected by bees to be made into honey or fruit eaten by animals to spread seeds. So unless this ecosystem evolved to be completely self-sustaining without any animal presence, then it should be producing something edible in some way, right?

Rogue One Erso Farm Droid

And even the drinking water thing seems suspect. Clearly, in A New Hope, Uncle Owen’s farm was producing enough drinking water for three people, plus we assume they were selling off the excess for profit. If they can harvest this much water on a desert planet, why do we see more moisture vaporators on Galen Erso’s farm than we ever saw on Uncle Owen’s? Wouldn’t a single vaporator — on a planet absolutely drenched in moisture — be enough for a family of three?

It seems as if the writers of Rogue One didn’t really put a whole lot of thought into moisture vaporators. They maybe saw them as a chance to visually call back to A New Hope without really understanding the basics of moisture farming. When you consider that these same writers have Vader living in Mordor and making puns, it becomes difficult to defend their moisture vaporator knowledge, or their knowledge of Star Wars lore in general.

Now, I will freely admit that only the nerdiest of Star Wars nerds are going to even care, but it frustrates me that Disney is showing a willingness to be careless with the Star Wars property this soon after acquiring it.

On a completely unrelated note, why the hell did Krennic have his ship parked so far away from the Erso farm?

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Ridiculous, right?

Josh Wirtanen owns this place and has opinions about pretty much everything. Follow him on Twitter: @joshuajwirtanen.