ISS will fall to Earth, NASA explains where and when
- NASA wants to end the ISS, and it has a plan
- Point nemo, the cemetery of the space world that is still in demand
- A high-risk return to Earth
The International Space Station (ISS) has been orbiting the Earth since the year 2000. More than two decades after its commissioning, NASA and the other government agencies responsible for its maintenance have announced the end of the adventure. But a new question arises, where and when the ISS will end its run ?
With several hundred tons of steel in orbit, the space station’s trajectory will have to be very specific to not “explode” the station during its re-entry into the atmosphere. NASA’s goal is to keep the station in one piece for as long as possible.
ISS: a controlled descent
According to the latest calculation from the US space agency, the ISS should leave the orbit in 2031. From 2026, the ISS’s orbit will be changed slightly so that the station falls gently towards the Earth. Today, more than 400 kilometers from Earth, the space station will slowly fall toward the Karman line (100 kilometers), the boundary between the upper atmosphere and space.
When it falls, the ISS will lose its solar panels and some modules. They will disintegrate in the atmosphere without doing any harm to the earth. The bulk of the station will continue to orbit Earth, slowed by Earth’s atmosphere. This long autumn, which was supposed to last several weeks, ends with point nemo.
Point nemo: Earth’s lost place
This geographical point off the coast of New Zealand is the furthest point from the mainland. When rare navigators pass this place, they are closer to space and the satellites present in orbit than their New Zealand and South American neighbors.
Very far from people and the coast, the “nemo” point is also devoid of thriving marine life. An “empty” zone sandwiched between two powerful ocean currents, few fish live in this region of the world. Because of this specificity, the nemo point has been the “graveyard” of the space world for several decades.
ISS: the risk of an “artificial tsunami”
As for the ISS, the International Space Station will end its life there in 2031-2032. For now, no “rescue” mission is planned, so the ISS should sink into the abyss of the South Pacific, thousands of kilometers from Chile.
However, the fall of 450 tons of steel cannot go unnoticed, and the intensity of the impact of the sea can cause a huge wave. Several Polynesian island groups also fear the consequences of the ISS’s fall. If the latter were to deviate very slightly from its path, it would shadow you close to an island and engulf it under a huge wave.