When spacecrafts or satellites have served their purpose and have to return to Earth, NASA has a very specific place to send them.
This is the most remote place on the planet and is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean… it’s known as ‘Point Nemo’ and the closest land is 2,250km away. Astronauts on board the International Space Station (ISS) are actually the closest humans to this graveyard, since the ISS orbits at a distance of 360km from Earth.
What is ‘Point Nemo’ for?
This place is the furthest place away from civilization, so it is in fact the ideal place for NASA. The American Space Agency uses it as a type of storage place for their old spacecrafts. This is where they crash when they return to Earth, but it is a controlled crash organized by NASA. These security measures are taken to make sure no one is affected by the debris.
In March 2016, China lost control of its Space Station Tiangong-1 and had no way of determining the position of where it crashed and so couldn’t make sure that the station ended up in Point Nemo. Luckily, Tiangong-1 did end up in the Ocean.
Between 1971 and 2016, more than 260 spacecrafts have crashed in Point Nemo, including the Russian Space Station known as Mir, roughly 140 Russian vehicles and even a SpaceX rocket.
But not all NASA’s equipment needs to end up in the Pacific Ocean. For example, smaller satellites break up and disintegrate on their own when they return to Earth thanks to the heat generated by air friction when they reenter the atmosphere.
Check out the video above to learn more about Point Nemo...