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'Spacecraft Cemetery' Is The Most Remote Point On Earth

'Spacecraft Cemetery' Is The Most Remote Point On Earth

The final resting place of more than 260 decommissioned spacecraft.

Claire Reid

Claire Reid

Rockets, satellites and other space exploration gear is probably the most high-tech and highly-classified kit on the face of the Earth. The last thing any country would want would be for theirs to fall into the wrong hands.

This makes it a bit of a challenge to dispose of. After all, you can't just leave it floating about in space.

Over 4,000 satellites currently orbit the Earth, which creates a lot of loose debris. It's a rare occurrence, but when these objects collide it can create a dangerous, intergalactic domino effect.

So, what do the likes of NASA and Space X do instead? Simple. They dump all of their old space shit at the most remote place on the planet, miles and miles away from any prying eyes.

Point Nemo is situated between Chile and New Zealand, with the nearest land mass 2,250km away.

Point zero for NASA
Point zero for NASA

Credit: Google Maps

It's often referred to as the Spacecraft Cemetery, due to the fact that it's often the final resting place for decommissioned space-exploration equipment.

Smaller satellites tend to break up upon re-entry into the atmosphere, but it's larger objects that Point Nemo is useful for, as a spokesperson from NASA explains: "What about bigger things like space stations and larger spacecraft in low orbit?

"These objects might not entirely burn up before reaching the ground. There is a solution-spacecraft operators can plan for the final destination of their old satellites to make sure that any debris falls into a remote area.

"This place even has a nickname - the Spacecraft Cemetery! It's in the Pacific Ocean and is pretty much the farthest place from any human civilisation you can find."

NASA man in Space
NASA man in Space

It's not a new thing. The spot has actually been used for this purpose since the early '70s and is home to around 260 ex-space crafts.

With all of that fancy technology gear there, ripe for the picking, you would have thought it might be worthwhile for other government bodies to go snooping around.

However, given that Point Nemo is around 17m square km, the chances of finding anything are slim to nil.

Cleaning up space is becoming a really big issue, but given the sensitive nature of the technology, it becomes difficult for multiple nations to become involved.

Aerospace engineer and atmospheric re-entry specialist, Bill Ailor has a few ideas on how to go about it, though.

He told Business Insider: "I've proposed something like an XPRIZE or a Grand Challenge, where would you identify three spacecraft and give a prize to an entity to remove those things.

"It's not just a technical issue. This idea of ownership gets to be a real player here.

"No other nation has permission to touch a US satellite, for instance. And if we went after a could even be deemed an act of war.

"There needs to be something where nations and commercial [companies] have some authority to go after something."

Source: The Independent

Featured Image Credit:

Topics: World News, Nasa, space