Point Nemo
Chantel Brink
Chantel Brink
February 2, 2024 ·  3 min read

This Island is So Isolated That Astronauts are Your Closest Neighbors

Imagine a spot in the Pacific Ocean so remote that the closest humans to it are on the International Space Station. Well, congratulations, you’ve made it to the end of a month that felt like a hundred days. But if that hasn’t brightened your outlook for the year, and you still dream of escaping humanity, good news!

There’s an Earthly locale so isolated that its closest neighbors are astronauts – Point Nemo

You can't get farther away from land than 'Point Nemo.'
Image Credit: National Ocean Service

However, it’s not the coziest place, with harsh winds and freezing temperatures. Point Nemo, the ‘Oceanic Pole of Inaccessibility,’ is smack in the middle of the Pacific, around 1,670 miles away from the nearest land.

Interestingly, even the person who initially calculated the exact location of Point Nemo has never laid eyes on it. Back in 1992, Croatian survey engineer Hrvoje Lukatela embarked on a mission to pinpoint the spot in the Pacific Ocean that was the farthest from any land. Armed with a computer program, he meticulously determined the coordinates of Point Nemo without ever physically visiting the remote location.

The closest inhabited place is Ducie Island, but it’s a good trek away

American astronaut in space
Image Credit: Pixabay Pexels

Head north, and you’ll find yourself at Maher Island in Antarctica, or northeast to Motu Nui Island near Easter Island. The exact coordinates depend on three points, creating an intriguing solution to the ‘longest swim’ problem — the ocean point is equidistant from all three locations.

The bottom line is, it’s really, really far from anywhere. In fact, places more than 250 miles away from civilization often find their closest human visitors in astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Named in 1992 by Croatian engineer Hrvoje Lukatela, “Nemo” is Latin for ‘no man,’ fitting for its isolated location.

When it comes to non-human residents, Point Nemo doesn’t host a bustling community either. Its coordinates align with the South Pacific Gyre, a vast rotating current that blocks nutrient-rich water from entering the area. The absence of food sources makes it nearly impossible for most life to thrive in this part of the ocean.

However, that doesn’t mean the region is entirely devoid of life. Scientists have observed the existence of several bacteria and small crabs near the volcanic vents on the seafloor at Point Nemo. These resilient organisms manage to survive in the challenging conditions of this remote underwater realm.

Read More: Rediscovering the Beauty and Spirit of Maui

A hunting ground for satellites and spacecraft

Gray and White Satellite
Image Credit: Pixabay Pexels

Aside from its remoteness, Point Nemo serves as a handy spot for bringing down satellites and spacecraft, as there’s minimal risk of harming anyone. The sea surrounding Point Nemo is also incredibly deep, about 13,000 feet. NASA and various global space agencies have intentionally chosen Point Nemo in the Pacific Ocean as their underwater space graveyard for falling debris.

Autonomous spaceships, satellites, and other space debris aren’t built to withstand re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere—they usually get destroyed by the intense heat. This led scientists to carefully choose a location for the disposal of such objects, ensuring an extremely low risk of any humans being hit by falling space debris. When the International Space Station meets its end in 2031, it will descend here, ensuring it crashes as far away from humans as possible, both logistically and geographically.

This remote location serves as a secure spot for retiring space equipment, minimizing any potential risks to inhabited areas. Should you decide to visit, the coordinates are 45º52.6S, 123º23.6W. Just a heads up, don’t expect a warm welcome, and keep an eye out for falling satellites!

Read More: 5 Jaw Dropping Waterfalls In Brazil That Will Remind You Of Nature’s Vastness

Sources

  1. “The most isolated place on Earth where astronauts in space are the nearest people to you.” Unilad. Tom Wood. January 31, 2024.
  2. “Eerie Facts About Point Nemo, The Most Remote Location On Planet Earth.” ATI. Gina Dimuro. March 27, 2022.