Where is Point Nemo?
The locaiton of Point Nemo
People often vaguely refer to “the middle of nowhere”, but as it turns out, scientists have actually figured out precisely where that point is.
Pacific Ocean point is known as “Point Nemo”, named after the famous submarine sailor from Jules Verne’s “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”. The word “Nemo” in Latin means “no one”.
The most remote place on Earth
Point Nemo is officially known as “the oceanic pole of inaccessibility”, in other words, the point in the ocean that is farthest away from land.
Located at 48° 52.6′ South and 123° 23.6′ West, the spot is quite literally the middle of nowhere, surrounded by more than thousands of km of ocean in every direction, and its depth exceeds 3 kilometers.
The nearest islands are Pitcairn in the north, Easter Island in the northeast and Maher Island off the coast of Antarctica in the south. However, more than 1600 kilometers of water separate the Point Nemo from them. And from the coast of New Zealand – more than 5000 km.
The location is so isolated that the closest people to Point Nemo are actually not even on Earth. The nearest settlement is the International Space Station – the astronauts who live on it are constantly at a distance of 405 kilometers from Earth.
Discovery of Point Nemo
For the first time, Point Nemo was recognized as the most remote place from land in the world in 1992. Then the Croatian engineer Hrvoje Lukatela calculated her coordinates using the computer simulation method.
Hrvoje Lukatela was he who also named it in honor of Captain of “Nautilus”, who decided to hide from people at sea.
Not even the man who discovered Point Nemo has ever visited it. It is very possible no human has ever passed through those coordinates at all.
As for non-human inhabitants, there aren’t very many of those around Point Nemo either. The coordinates are actually located within the South Pacific Gyre: an enormous rotating current that actually prevents nutrient-rich water from flowing into the area. Without any food sources, it is impossible to sustain any life in this part of the ocean (other than the bacteria and small crabs that live near the volcanic vents on the seafloor).
The zone also has extremely low biological activity. A strong current does not allow all living organisms to survive in the zone except bacteria. Almost no nutrients enter it either.
However, long before this, a number of researchers considered the oceanic pole of inaccessibility to be one of the most remote geographical objects from humanity.
Spaceship last refuge
When the spacecraft completes its mission and it runs out of fuel, it must be disposed of. Then space agencies send him to a special “cemetery” in the Pacific Ocean, known as Point Nemo.
Since 1971, more than 263 spacecraft have crashed here. Soon the International Space Station will be here – in 2024, a decommissioning awaits.
Here is safe “land” ships moving at a speed of about 290 kilometers per hour, with a minimum probability that it will harm people or representatives of marine fauna.
According to NASA researchers, the chances that someone could be hurt are only 0.0001% and this makes Point Nemo the ideal last refuge for spacecraft.
The most massive of them is the Soviet space station “Mir”, weighing 120 tons. Launched in 1986, it lasted 16 years, but in 2001 it was decided to flood it in the waters of the Pacific Ocean.
At Point Nemo, SpaceX rockets, five cargo ships of the European Space Agency, including the Jules Verne automated vehicle, six Japanese HTV cargo ships, six Russian “Salyut” space stations and more than 140 Russian repair vehicles, also ended their lives.
2024 should also end the life of the International Space Station. If this happens, she will also be in the cemetery of spacecraft, and will become the heaviest object in the “cemetery” – its weight is 400 tons.
What happens to other spacecraft
However, not all spacecraft complete their lives at Point Nemo. Sometimes engineers lose contact with them and can no longer determine the course of the ship.
For this reason, for example, in 1991 the Russian space station Salyut-7 crashed in South Africa, and in 1971 the NASA Skylab orbital station fell in Australia.
Last year, scientists from all over the world also expressed concern about the fact that it would not be possible to send the Chinese spacecraft Tiangong-1 to Nemo point. At the end of March 2016, the ground-based flight control center lost control of the station, and it was difficult to predict exactly where it would fall.
In the end, Tiangong-1 entered the atmosphere over the central and southern regions of the Pacific Ocean and burned almost completely when it entered the atmosphere of the planet.
However, not all spacecraft managed to reach the Earth’s surface. So, for example, the Vanguard I spacecraft launched by the USA in 1958 is still in orbit. Communication with him was lost in 1964. According to experts, it will be in orbit for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
Debris from one of the Soviet satellites of the RORSAT program, the American satellite DMSP-F13, and so on, also remained in space. In March, India also intentionally destroyed one of its satellites using a rocket.
NASA condemned this act and emphasized that in this way the country increased the amount of space debris, which could pose a threat to the safety of astronauts on the International Space Station.
Mysteries Associated With Point Nemo
Because Point Nemo is located in what has been described as “the least biologically active region of the world ocean,” scientists were surprised when, in 1997, they detected one of the loudest underwater sounds ever recorded near the pole.
The sound was captured by underwater microphones more than 3,000 miles apart. Befuddled scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration were at a loss to think of something large enough to create such a loud sound underwater and dubbed the mystery noise “The Bloop.” Sci-fi enthusiasts, however, quickly thought of one explanation.
When writer H.P. Lovecraft first introduced readers to his infamous titular, tentacled monster in 1926’s “The Call of Cthulhu,” he wrote that the creature’s lair was the lost city of R’yleh in the south Pacific Ocean. Lovecraft gave R’yleh the coordinates 47°9′ S 126°43’ W, which are astonishingly close to those of Point Nemo and to where The Bloop was recorded.
The fact that Lovecraft first wrote about his sea monster in 1928 (nearly a full 50 years before Lukatela calculated Nemo’s location) led some people to speculate that the pole of inaccessibility was, in fact, home to a yet-undiscovered creature of some sorts.
As it turns out, The Bloop was actually the sound of ice breaking off of Antarctica and not the call of Cthulhu. Point Nemo does, however, have at least one other eerie claim to its name. Due to its remoteness and distance from shipping routes, the area around Nemo was chosen as a “spaceship graveyard.”
Because autonomous spaceships are not designed to survive re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere (the heat usually destroys them), scientists needed to select an area where there would be an extremely low risk of any humans being struck with flying space-debris. With a population of zero, the oceanic pole of inaccessibility at Point Nemo offered the perfect solution.
Although a Lovecraftian monster may not lurk in its depths, Point Nemo is surrounded by remains of spacecraft that are, indeed, not of this world.