Point Nemo: facts about the earth's longest point from land

Point Nemo: facts about the earth’s longest point from land

Point Nemo is the most remote place on earth – the place furthest from land.

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

It is called “Point Nemo” because “nemo” means “none” in Latin. It is also the name of Jules Vernes the 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 sea (1870) and The mysterious island (1875).

Not only is Point Nemo in the middle of nowhere, it’s also a spaceship cemetery: the place where NASA and other space organizations crash their orbiting satellites, space stationsand other decommissioned spacecraft.

1. The oceanic pole of inaccessibility

Point Nemo is also called the sea pole of inaccessibility.

This means that it is the place on the sea that is furthest from any land. An inaccessibility pole refers to a place on earth that is the most inaccessible to reach according to established criteria. On land, it often refers to the point furthest from the coast.

Unavailable posts include:

  • The northern pole of inaccessibility is located in the Arctic Ocean’s pack ice. This is located at 85 ° 48′N 176 ° 9′W, about 626 miles (1,008 kilometers) from the nearest land masses Ellesmere Island (in Canada), Henrietta Island (in the eastern Siberian Sea) and the Arctic Cape (in Russian). High Arctic).
  • The South Pole of inaccessibility usually refers to a site in a (former) Soviet Union research station in Antarctica, about 546 miles (878 kilometers) from the terrestrial South Pole.
  • Continental poles of inaccessibility: a point in northwestern China (the Eurasian pole) near the border with Kazakhstan; a point near the city of Obo in the Central African Republic 1,814 km (1,127 miles) from the coast (African Pole); a point in the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota (North American Pole) about 11 km (7 miles) north of the town of Allen and 1,650 km (1,030 miles) from the nearest shoreline; a point near Arenapolis, Brazil (South American Pole) 1,504 km (935 miles) from the nearest coastline; and two points near Papunya in Australia and 920 km (570 miles) from the nearest coastline.

Exact location of Point Nemo

The exact location of Point Nemo is calculated as 48 ° 52.6′S 123 ° 23.6′W or 49.0273 ° S 123.4345 ° W. It is 1,680.7 miles (2,704.8 km) from the nearest islands in the South Pacific: Ducie Island, an atoll on the Pitcairn Islands, in the north; Motu Nui, the largest of three islets near Easter Island, in the northeast; and Maher Island, off the coast of Antarctica’s unclaimed territory Marie Byrd Land, to the south.

All these islands are uninhabited. To find civilization, you must go to Easter Island (Rapa Nui) – one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world, about 2,200 miles (3,540 kilometers) east of Chile – or to New Zealand, about 2,500 miles (4,023 kilometers ) away.

motu nui
Motu Nui, Motu Iti and the sea bar Motu Kao Kao. Source: kallerna / Wikimedia Commons

As there are no airports at Point Nemo, this trip can only be done by boat, and it can take more than two weeks to complete.

Meanwhile, the closest people to Point Nemo are often the astronauts on board International Space Station (ISS), which, when passing directly over Point Nemo, is only about 258 miles (415 kilometers) away – much closer than any other human being on earth at that point.

3. Who Discovered Point Nemo?

The location of Point Nemo was first calculated in 1992 by Croatian-Canadian survey engineer Hrvoje Lukatela, based on data from the “Digital Chart of the World” compiled by the US Defense Mapping Agency (now the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency). Lukatela used calculation software to give a numerical resolution of about 1 mm.

4. Point Nemo, a lifeless place

It is clear that there is no human life near Point Nemo. Well, there does not seem to be much marine life either. Point Nemo’s location falls in the middle of the South Pacific Gyr, a rotating ocean current that keeps nutrient-rich waters away from the area.

Map of gyres. Source: NOAA

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

Researchers have only found bacteria and small crabs that live in the volcanic valves of the seabed around Point Nemo.

However, there are contaminants. In 2018, there were up to 26 microplastic particles per cubic meter found in seawater samples collected near Point Nemo by passing ships.

5. Cthulhus hem

Point Nemo’s location is by chance near R’yleh, HP Lovecraft’s fictional sunken city, where the Cthulhu unit is buried.

Lovecraft located the city at 47 ° 9′S 126 ° 43′W in the South Pacific, very close to Point Nemo.

R'lyeh places
R’yleh placement of HP Lovecraft and August Derleth, co-creator of Cthulhu Mythos, in relation to Point Nemo. Source: Nojhan / Wikimedia Commons

The fictional sunken city was first mentioned in The Call of Cthulhu (1928), a short story written 66 years before the calculation of Point Nemo.

6. Bloopen

In 1997, researchers from the American National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) discovered an ultra-low-frequency sound near Point Nemo that they could not explain. They called it “bloop”.

HRS. P. Lovecraft fans quickly associated the sound with Cthulhu. Although there is not much biological activity near Point Nemo, some researchers assumed that it was in fact an unidentified marine animal call.

In 2005, it was finally found that the sound was produced by a non-tectonic earthquake from glacial movements in Antarctica.

Space organizations have found that an extremely isolated place like Point Nemo is a safe place for satellites and spacecraft that are in orbit to Earth at the end of its life. By using controlled landings, space organizations can deliberately splash down abandoned spacecraft in this remote area without affecting humans or maritime traffic in the process.

Space organizations reportedly began using Point Nemo as a spaceship cemetery in the 1970s, before the area was even named “Point Nemo.”

Many smaller retired spacecraft decay and burn up when they re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere, but if they are too large to burn by themselves, they crash on purpose at Point Nemo – an area outside the legal jurisdiction of any country. The goal of breaking orbit is to keep space debris from colliding with functioning satellites or manned spacecraft in low orbit around the earth. The use of Point Nemo also ensures that no people or objects will be hit by the garbage that disappears.

space debris illustration
Space junk illustration. Source: Hopeful in NJ / Flickr

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 space station Skylab (1973) -1979) .

Other space debris in Point Nemo spacecraft cemetery includes aircraft belonging to the European Space Agency (ESA) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), approximately 140 Russian reconnaissance vehicles and a SpaceX rocket. The International Space Station (ISS) is expected to crash at Point Nemo when it retires in 2028-2030.

space station russian mir
MIR space station. Source: Free Public Domain Illustrations by rawpixel / Wikimedia Commons

But because spacecraft crash when they hit, their remains can spread over as much as 995 miles of ocean.

It is also important to note that space debris disposal at Point Nemo can also have an environmental impact. Although spacecraft are mostly constructed of non-toxic metals such as stainless steel, titanium or aluminum,adioactive substances and hydrazine, a very toxic rocket propellantis believed to survive re-entry and can cause marine pollution at Point Nemo through chemical spills.

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