Tuesday, October 10, 2023

The spot in the ocean that's the furthest from any solid ground on Earth has been turned into a spacecraft graveyard

Between 1971 and 2018, global space powers, including the United States, Russia, Japan and Europe,  crashed more than 263 space objects in the uninhabited region of the ocean around Point Nemo. The list includes the Soviet-era Mir space station and six craft from the country's Salyut programme, as well as 140 Russian resupply vehicles, six cargo transfer vehicles launched by Japan, and five from the European Space Agency (Esa). More recently, this oceanic dump is thought to have received part of a SpaceX capsule rocket. And coincidentally, its closest neighbour, the ISS, is expected to splash-land at this remote spot in just eight years.
The entirety of Mir was swallowed up by the Pacific Ocean, where it remains. Any surviving fragments are likely sitting under several kilometres of water.

The question is, how much of Mir – and other defunct spacecraft that have made similar journeys – will have survived an incandescent trip though Earth’s atmosphere and abrupt ocean landing?
All this means that Point Nemo is now – and will likely remain – a goldmine for future archaeologists.