[meteorite-list] The Fallen 'Star' of Hoba (Hoba Meteorite)

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu, 25 Sep 2008 13:22:50 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <200809252022.NAA16040_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


The Fallen 'Star' of Hoba
By Chrispin Inambao
New Era
September 25, 2008

Fifty-seven kilometres east of the B-1 road between Otavi and
Grootfontein is a turn-off from where a serpentine dusty road leads to a
cluster of fertile commercial farms.

>From the turn-off one would have to endure a 24-km drive along a bumpy
road that traverses several maize fields and fertile cattle ranches that
economically sustain the maize triangle to reach one particular farm
that possesses a heritage of global significance.

Hoba Farm is of global significance in that the largest single piece of
?cosmic dust? to have fallen anywhere on earth from the sky lies several
metres embedded in its surface.

This meteorite of considerable importance to scientists is a favoured
tourist destination.

Weighing in excess of 60 tonnes and discovered in 1920 Hoba Meteorite is
said to have landed on earth over 80 000 years ago and is one of the
reasons tourists flock to Namibia.

Multitudes of visitors from America, Germany, Italy, Britain, France and
South Africa, among other countries, toting expensive digital cameras
are drawn to this metallic stone slab that was discovered through a
chance event by a farmer with an ox-drawn plough.

Had it not been for this maize farmer, no one would know that beneath
Namibia?s surface is buried the largest known meteorite in the world for
there is no crater in that area.

This meteorite is unusual in that it is flat on both major surfaces
possibly causing it to have skipped across the top of the atmosphere in
a way a flat stone skips on water.

Adelheid Garises and her husband Ambrosius Gariseb are part of a team of
people ensuring this national treasure listed among the National
Monuments is protected from vandals.

In fact, it was declared a national monument on March 15, 1955 and in
1985 R?ssing Uranium Ltd availed funds so that additional protection
could be taken against vandals.

A portion of these funds was utilised to make the site more attractive
to tourists.

In 1987 Jan Engelbrecht the owner of Hoba West donated the meteorite and
the site where it lies to the State for educational purposes. Later that
year a tourist centre was opened at the site. Because of these
developments, vandalism has ceased and thousands of both local and
domestic tourists visit this breath-taking site year in and year out.

Previously souvenir-hunters had hacked some pieces of this priceless

In the 50s ISCOR a South African steel company, made an offer to buy the
whole stone for a million pounds that at that time was a staggering amount.

In astronomical terms Hoba Meteorite is no more than a 'speck of cosmic
dust' though on a more modest human scale, this rock is both the largest
and heaviest meteorite on earth.

It is worth noting the speed at which these meteorites travel by far
eclipses that of bullets.

Garises said the meteorite is located 24 km from Grootfontein and that
it attracts anything from 24 to 80 tourists everyday but that the number
could even be higher and groups of school-children undertake guided
tours to see this strange-looking metallic stone slab.

Geologists from far and wide also travel to this area to scientifically
probe this stone.

Comprising 84 percent iron and 16 percent nickel this slab will continue
being a major tourist attraction in years to come.
Received on Thu 25 Sep 2008 04:22:50 PM PDT

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