The Underwater Cemetery Where Spaceships Go to Die

For centuries, burial at sea has been a common practice across cultural lines. It can be done out of necessity, for religious reasons, or because humans feel that the best way to get rid of something is by dumping it in the ocean. And this isn’t just true for organic matter; we’ve been known to do it with 143-ton hunks of space junk as well.

In the South Pacific, 2500 miles off the New Zealand coast, lies a patch of sea that is home to decades worth of space history. The South Pacific Ocean Uninhabited Area, playfully known as the "Spacecraft Cemetery,” has become a favorite place for space programs to crash land their defunct satellites. Thousands of miles of open ocean separate the spot from any islands or human life. Its neighbor is the lonely Point Nemo—named for the Jules Verne character—that's farther from land than any other spot on Earth. 

There are 161 spacecrafts that have made this stretch of sea their final resting place. Among them are several resupply vehicles that serviced the International Space Station, four of Japan’s HTV cargo crafts, and Russia’s massive Mir space station. You may suspect the area’s ocean floor to look like an otherworldly Air & Space museum, but the spacecraft there are all but unrecognizable. The majority of a spacecraft's mass will burn up during reentry, meaning that all that’s left when it hits the ocean are some charred pieces of scrap metal.

In addition to the Spacecraft Cemetery, there’s an alternate destination for unwanted vehicles that’s even further removed from life on earth. By blasting a satellite away from the planet and into a more remote orbit, it becomes part of what’s called a “graveyard orbit.” This is often preferable as it requires less fuel than bringing it back to earth, but it's a temporary solution that adds to a growing problem. 

The space junk orbiting Earth accumulates with each passing year. And while dumping spacecraft in the ocean may not seem environmentally friendly, the atmosphere significantly reduces the junk matter before it ever reaches the ocean. So may the Spacecraft Cemetery live on, both in reality and in our cosmic nightmares.

[h/t: Gizmodo]

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

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Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

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UFO Sightings Are Up 51 Percent During the COVID-19 Pandemic

With more free time as a result of the pandemic, people have been reporting more UFO sightings.
With more free time as a result of the pandemic, people have been reporting more UFO sightings.
mscornelius/iStock via Getty Images

With an abundance of free time as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are increasingly turning their attention to stargazing. Sometimes, they can’t quite believe what they’re seeing.

According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, sightings of unidentified flying objects, or UFOs, are up 51 percent in 2020 over the same time period in 2019. The data comes from the National UFO Reporting Center, a two-person operation out of Harrington, Washington, which accepts and compiles sightings from individuals and says that more than 5000 incidents have been reported this year.

Peter Davenport, who runs the Center, told the Journal that many UFO sightings can be chalked up to drones, planes, or satellites. But there are nonetheless a number that have no clear origin. Recently, the Navy even released footage of three UFOs spotted by pilots that have no obvious explanation.

In August, the Pentagon announced a task force to study “unexplained aerial phenomena,” or UAPs, another term for what could be alien aircraft surveying humans.

With more time to look skyward, people may find more UFOs or UAPs to pique their curiosity, and 2020 may ultimately end with more believers and fewer skeptics than it started with.

[h/t The Wall Street Journal]