Friday, August 13, 2021

This is Hoba

Every year several thousand tourists pass through this small amphitheater to admire the central rock. The reason is simple: it is the heaviest known meteorite fallen on the Earth’s surface!

The stone was discovered at the beginning of the twentieth century by a farmer who was passing the plow on his farm in Grootfontein, a town in northern Namibia. The meteorite, named Hoba after the farm where it was found, was brought to light thanks to the work of numerous scientists and was later made a tourist attraction.

At the time of its discovery Hoba weighed 66 tons, but today its weight has been reduced to 60 tons due to erosive phenomena, vandalism and the taking of samples by scientists. Its dimensions can instead be approximated to those of a parallelepiped from the sides of 2.7 x 2.7 x 0.9 meters.

The meteorite is 84% iron and 16% nickel, with some traces of cobalt. This makes it the largest natural iron mass known on our planet!

Studies have established that Hoba crashed to Earth about 80,000 years ago, but surprisingly no trace of a crater has been found! This strangeness was explained on the basis of the shape of the meteorite and its trajectory of entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. Hoba should have entered almost parallel to the surface and this greatly reduced its rate of fall. In addition, its shape may have bounced off the surface in a similar way as a stone bounces off the water, without producing a crater.

Credit: Sergio Conti. 

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