National Aeronautics and Space Administration + NASA Quest
+ Search Quest
 Find it at NASA

Exploration through Navigation Challenge

Navigation Challenge logo

By Team Bern, second mate Nalu olapa
Bern Homeschool

form partially filled out

Description of route:

Part 1: Big Island to Nuku Hiva (Marquesas), approximately 22 days, 2140 Nautical miles

• depart 20 N 155 W Heading SE Nalani
• 3 N 143 W SE Haka
• 8 56' S 140 W arrive Nuku Hiva reprovision


Part 2: Nuku Hiva (Marquesas) to Rikitea (Mangareva), approximately 13 days, 1500 Nautical miles

• depart 8 56' S 140 W Heading SE Nalani
• 15 S 130 W S Hema
• 22 75' S 134 57' W arrive Rikitea


Part 3: Rikitea (Mangareva) to Pitcairn, approximately 4 days, 300 Nautical miles

• depart 22 75' S 134 57' W Heading SE ‘Aina
• 25 04' S 130 06' W arrive Pitcairn reprovision


Part 4: Pitcairn to Rapa Nui, approximately 26 - 31 days, 1130 Nautical miles

• depart 25 04' S 130 06' W Heading SE ‘Aina
• 29 S 119 W E Hikina
• 27 S 109 W arrive Rapa Nui


Total distance approximately 5070 Nautical miles, 65 - 70 days

picture of route

Methods of Navigation:

• Sun and Moon
• ocean swells
• Landmarks:
• Marquesas [Eiao, Hatuto (to the north of Nuku Hiva), Nuku hiva]
• Mangareva [ Marutea South (north of Mangareva), Temoe (southeast of Mangareva)]
• Pitcairn
• Rapa Nui
• Cloud formations and birds to signal the approach of land
• We will want to approach and depart Mangareva during the day to avoid reefs in the area

• Moon
• stars (northern hemisphere): Polaris, Altair, Antares, Betelgeuse
• constellations (northern hemisphere): Ursa Major, Cassiopeia, Sagittarius, Scorpio
• constellations (southern hemisphere): The Southern Cross

Other considerations:

The timing of our trip is designed to avoid the major hurricane/typhoon seasons in both hemispheres. In the northern hemisphere, the hurricane season runs from May through November, peaking in August/September. In the southern hemisphere, the hurricane season runs from November through May, peaking January through March. By departing from Hawai’i at the end of April we will avoid the peak hurricane season in the northern hemisphere. We should arrive in the southern hemisphere within two weeks (arriving mid-May). This also avoids the peak hurricane season in the southern hemisphere. We thought it important to place an emphasis on avoiding hurricanes because a considerable portion of our voyage will be spent in the open ocean with no opportunity for safe harbor should a hurricane approach and the chances of surviving a hurricane in the open ocean would be minimal. The other factor in selecting our departure was that it will be difficult to approach Rapa Nui from the west because of the easterly winds. By early June, the beginning of winter in the southern hemisphere, we may encounter westerly winds which would assist us in the final phase of our journey from Pitcairn Island to Rapa Nui. One final factor in the exact timing of our trip was the moon cycle. We wanted to be arriving at Rapa Nui close to the full moon (July 7, 2009) to make it easier to discern the island, should we approach it at night.

 FirstGov  NASA

Editor: Linda Conrad
NASA Official: Liza Coe
Last Updated: October 2008