NOV 14, 2017 03:26 PM PST

Here's Where Most of Our Decommissioned Spacecraft Land


Satellites and spacecraft don't last forever; eventually, their mission ends, or they run out of fuel. When the time comes, NASA tries to de-orbit them safely, as this prevents the decommissioned space equipment from adding to the space junk problem.

So that leaves the question: where do all those de-orbited spacecraft end up? Good question.

Given that NASA has tons of experience with de-orbiting things, they've got the process down pat. NASA can essentially choose precisely where spent spacecraft will land. The goal is to avoid any accidents, so landings are kept far away from populated areas, making the ocean an ideal place.

There just so happens to be a broad span of ocean about 3,000 miles to the East of New Zealand, and it's perfect for landing retired spacecraft. NASA calls this landing zone the 'spacecraft cemetery,' and more than 260 satellites have landed there to date.

NASA estimates that the chance of a human casualty occurring from landing a satellite at the spacecraft cemetery is below 0.0001%. Most smaller spacecraft burn up before ever reaching the surface, but larger ones sometimes fall into the ocean. From there, they'll either sink or float for recovery teams to snatch.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
NOV 03, 2018
Videos
NOV 03, 2018
Why Does Your Tooth Hurt Biting into Candies?
After Halloween, eating so much candy and not following good hygiene protocols may cause cavities. However, what makes chomping onto a chocolate bar (or ot...
NOV 04, 2018
Space & Astronomy
NOV 04, 2018
These Planets Have More Extreme Weather Than Earth
You might think that the weather can get nasty here on Earth, but it pales in comparison to the weather on other planets in the solar system. The weather c...
NOV 21, 2018
Videos
NOV 21, 2018
Human Urine as Fertilizer?
Although at first it may sound unappealing, human urine could be a key asset in sustainable agriculture research particularly for its unique contribution....
NOV 26, 2018
Health & Medicine
NOV 26, 2018
The Fight Bite
  Human bite wounds are a common source of polymicrobial infections accounting for many emergency room visits. One bacteria, Eikenella corrodens, ...
NOV 28, 2018
Videos
NOV 28, 2018
What critics think about the first gene-edited babies
Chinese scientist He Jiankui took advantage of the International Human Genome Editing Summit in Hong Kong to publicize the results of his Crispr-Cas9 trial...
DEC 11, 2018
Plants & Animals
DEC 11, 2018
What is a Zombee?
You may or may not have heard of a zombee, which is essentially a zombified bee. Zombees are bees that have been infected by the phorid fly (Apocephalus bo...
Loading Comments...