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Point Nemo, the water cemetery of the earth for spacecraft



PARIS: A place where Tiangong-1's terrestrial and out-of-control space laboratory is unlikely to hit on Sunday is the lonely place in the South Pacific where it should crash.

Officially referred to as the "Oceanic Pole of Inaccessibility," this water cemetery for Titan fuel tanks and other high-tech space junk is better known to the space junkies as Point Nemo, in honor of Jules Verne's fictional submarine captain.

Point Nemo is further away from the country than any other point on the globe: 2,688 kilometers from the Pitcairn Islands in the north, one of the Easter Islands in the northwest and Maher Island – part of the Antarctic ̵

1; to the south.

"The most attractive feature of controlled reentry is that nobody lives there," said Stijn Lemmens, space junk expert at the European Space Agency in Darmstadt.

"Coincidentally, it's not biologically diverse, so it's used as a landfill – & # 39; Space Cemetery & # 39; would be a polite term – mainly for cargo planes," he told AFP.

About 250 to 300 spacecraft, most of which burned down as they made their way through the Earth's atmosphere, were laid to rest there, he said.

By far the largest object that came down from the sky in 2001 to land at Point Nemo was the Russian space laboratory MIR, which weighed 120 tons.

"It is routinely used today by the (Russian) Progress capsules that travel back and forth to the International Space Station (ISS)," Lemmens said.

Even the mighty 420-ton ISS will meet with fate in 2024 in Point Nemo.

In the future, most spacecraft with materials that melt at lower temperatures will be "destined for destruction," making them less likely to survive reentry and hit the Earth's surface.

Both NASA and ESA, for example, switch from titanium to aluminum in the production of fuel tanks.

China has launched Tiangong-1, its first manned space laboratory, into space in 2011. It was scheduled for a controlled re-entry, but ground mechanics lost control of the eight-ton ship in March 2016 in March 2016. It began its descent to a fiery end.

The likelihood that someone will be hit by debris from Tiangong-1 is, according to the ESA, vanishingly small, less than one in 12 trillion.

By the way, "Nemo" means "nobody" in Latin.


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