A Place of Earth Where No Human Has Ever Stepped Foot

Sneha Neupane

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Point Nemo is the most remote place on Earth - the place farthest from any land continent.

It is located in the South Pacific Ocean and lies around 2,688 kilometers (1,670 miles) from the nearest land.

It is called “Point Nemo” because “nemo” means “no one” in Latin. It is also the name of Jules Verne’s fictional character Captain Nemo, who travels through the oceans in his submarine, Nautilus, in Verne’s science-fiction adventure novels Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas (1870) and The Mysterious Island (1875). 

It is clear that there is no human life anywhere near Point Nemo. Well, there doesn’t seem to be much sea life either. Point Nemo’s location falls at the center of the Southern Pacific Gyre, a rotating ocean current that keeps nutrient-rich waters away from the area.

The huge distance from Point Nemo to land also implies that nutrient run-off from coastal waters does not reach the area easily. Marine creatures who would otherwise settle near Point Nemo simply have no food to thrive there. 

Researchers have only found bacteria and small crabs living in the volcanic vents of the seafloor around Point Nemo.

There is, however, pollution. In 2018, up to 26 microplastic particles per cubic meter were found in seawater samples collected near Point Nemo by passing vessels.

Space agencies have found that an extremely isolated location like Point Nemo is a safe “scuttling” site for satellites and spacecraft that are de-orbited to the Earth at the end of their useful lives. Using controlled landings, space agencies can deliberately splash down decommissioned spacecraft in this remote area without affecting people or maritime traffic in the process.

It is believed that astronauts are more close to the point nemo than any person on earth.

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Reportedly, space agencies started using Point Nemo as a spaceship graveyard in the 1970s, before the area was even named “Point Nemo.” 

Many smaller retired spacecraft disintegrate and burn up as they re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere, but if they are too large to burn by themselves, then they are intentionally crashed at Point Nemo — an area that is beyond the legal jurisdiction of any country. The goal of de-orbiting is to keep space junk from colliding with functioning satellites or crewed spacecraft in low Earth orbit. Using Point Nemo also ensures that no people or objects will be hit by the de-orbited debris.

More than 263 spacecraft were sent to Point Nemo between 1971 and 2016, including the Russian space station Mir (1986-2001), six stations from Russia’s first space station program Salyut (1971-1986), and remnants of NASA’s Skylab space station (1973-1979). 

Other space debris in Point Nemo’s spacecraft cemetery includes craft belonging to the European Space Agency (ESA) and to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), roughly 140 Russian resupply vehicles, and a SpaceX rocket. The International Space Station (ISS) is expected to crash at Point Nemo upon its retirement in 2028-2030. 

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However, because the spacecraft break up as they impact, their remains can be scattered across as much as 995 miles of ocean.

It’s also important to note that space debris disposal at Point Nemo may also have an environmental impact. Although spacecraft are mostly constructed of non-toxic metals like stainless steel, titanium, or aluminum, some radioactive substances and hydrazine, a highly toxic rocket propellant, are believed to survive re-entry and may cause marine pollution at Point Nemo through chemical spillage.

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