Point Nemo is a cemetery you can’t visit. It lies in the ocean’s “point of inaccessibility” because it lies over 1,600 miles from any land mass. In fact, it’s the furthest point from any land mass on Earth, which is a “fun fact” in itself. But our point is that Point Nemo is a special kind of burial ground – it’s a space cemetery under the sea.
Point Nemo the space cemetery
At the end of the journies to the farthest reaches of space, satellites, rockets, space stations, and the “junk” that comes down with them end up in this lonely spot deep in the Pacific Ocean.
It’s named not for Disney’s fishy character but for a more distinguished fictional Nemo – the submarine captain in Jules Verne’s classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
Someday, when it’s no longer a bastion of the latest space technology, it is where the International Space Station will be laid to rest.
The land of “space junk”
According to The Guardian (cited below): “When spacecraft die, they become a danger to everything else in orbit. Space debris is rapidly clogging up space, and at orbital speeds of up to 17,500km/h even tiny flecks of paint can cause serious damage to other spacecraft.”
According to science writer Jessica Baron the ISS itself is in danger from “space junk”, noting that “Even as far back as 2013, NASA reported that it was monitoring over 500,000 pieces of debris, 20,000 of which were larger than a softball. Because the “space junk” can travel at speeds of up to 17,500mph, even a small piece can pose a major collision risk for future missions and the ISS.”
This possibility is called the ‘Kessler Effect,” and The Guardian says “The Kessler Effect, or Kessler Syndrome, is the potential for the amount of debris in orbit to reach a critical mass where each collision creates more pieces of debris in a cascading way, to the point where the orbit is no longer usable.”
While some have considered building a giant space harpoon to catch this trash, most pieces are too small, so “To prevent such a disaster, anyone launching something into orbit these days has to have a plan to either send it into a graveyard orbit, or send it back down to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere,” NASA says.
And that’s where Point Nemo comes in. — WTF fun facts