There are two nodes available in Maya that basically do the same thing. One is a plugin that you turn on in Maya, nearestPointOnMesh, and the other is available through the Maya Bonus Tools, closestPointOnMesh. After loading the plugin(s), you can create one of these nodes with the following MEL command(s):
The differences/similarities can be seen in the images below:
So, depending on your needs, you can choose one or the other until they decide to just combine both of these nodes into one thing that has all of the features.
Why are there two similar nodes?
I am using maya 2016 now.
Currently, nearestPointOnMesh node is the only target that is loaded as a plug-in.
This post is pretty out of date, so it’s possible that they combined these two into just nearestPointOnMesh.