There’s an old graveyard that lurks thousands of kilometres beneath the most remote part of the planet, nowhere near any form of civilisation.

For decades, remains have been dumped there which now lie scattered along the floor of the Pacific Ocean – but they aren’t human. 

In fact, it’s so far from the closest humans that those nearest by are actually onboard the International Space Station (ISS).

The spot is called Point Nemo and it’s where space agencies like NASA have dumped their discarded space junk since 1971.

RE (via REUTERS)

Due its extremely isolated location, it’s been deemed the “safest” space on the planet for these controlled dumps, which are hurled from thousands of nautical miles from the thermosphere above.

“Most things burn up on re-entry, depending how fast it’s going and what material it’s made out of,” astronomer Dr Sara Webb told 9News.com.au.

“But when there’s the risk that there could be a substantial amount of other material left behind – even a few kilos – you want it to land as far away from humans as possible, so Point Nemo is perfect for that.

“It’s roughly 2,800 kilometres away from any human being on the planet – it’s an extraordinarily safe spot.”

Webb said that depending on the type of material that’s being ejected back into the earth’s atmosphere above, humans can actually remotely control where it’ll land.

“So, if it’s got fuel and it’s thrustable, you can totally direct it more readily,” she said.

“If it doesn’t have fuel though, or it’s something that you can’t communicate with, then you have no option.

“You can’t really do much with it but leave it in the orbit and wait for it to naturally decay down.”

But, leaving the material in orbit can mean they’ll become dangerous, and even deadly if they were to collide with any future human missions.

“In the future, in the not too distant future actually, we’ll be able to have satellites that go and grab other dead satellites and then throw them back into our orbit,” Webb said.

“In the next 10 years or so we’ll start to see very slick things like that.

The United States, Russia, Japan, and other European nations with space agencies have used the location to dump some 263 pieces of debris since 1971. (Google Earth)

“But the risk is, things that are in our orbit are travelling stupidly fast, insane speeds of tens of thousands of kilometres an hour sometimes.

“And when it’s metal, if you throw two pieces of metal together at incredible speeds – and it’s in the freezing cold space – they can kind of like spot weld themselves together and could cause chaos.”

Thankfully, spacecrafts and other discarded pieces of space junk are also able to be moved up into an “orbit graveyard”.

However, the astrophysisist, from Swinburne University, said it’s “getting crowded” up there, so bringing objects back to Earth, to Point Nemo, is the most sustainable option.

“We might stick things out in the orbit graveyard and they might be good for 50 to 200 years, depending how far away they are, but it’s not there forever,” Webb said.

“It will always need readjusting at some point. So I think that’s why we’ve got to be smart.”

‘Unexpected’ sight after spacecraft slams into asteroid

The United States, Russia, Japan, and other European nations with space agencies have used the location to dump some 263 pieces of debris since 1971, according to a 2019 report by NASA.

The deep sea cemetery will also soon become the final resting place of the ISS, when it’s eventually decommissioned in 2030.

Although it’s won’t serve as the resting place for space junk for eternity, Webb said Point Nemo is working perfectly well for the time being.

It even has a very minimal impact on the environment.

“At Point Nemo, because it doesn’t get any of the nutrients washed off from the coasts around the Pacific Ocean, almost no nutrients make it to this point,” she said.

“And so there’s very, very little life that is living there naturally. The environmental risk is very low.

“There’s only about 260 different objects that have been landed there, so it’s not thousands of things continuously.

“It is actually used quite responsibly.”

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