The 66-ton Hoba meteorite left no crater when it fell to Earth
Earth is bombarded by over 100 pounds of meteoric material every day. Most of them come down in small pieces of asteroids and similar debris made out of rock, iron, and nickel. When they fall to earth, it is rare for any serious damage to occur. On rare occasions, some meteorites are significant enough to be reported on in the media, and, on at least one occasion, the impact was severe enough to wipe out most life on Earth.
But that is rare. However, long ago, a very unusual meteorite fell on earth near Hoba, Namibia. Interestingly, it is the largest natural deposit of Iron ever found. Previously, such large deposits of iron have only been known to have been made by humans. So how did this iron form?
The meteorite, which is considered to be the world’s largest known meteorite piece at 119,000 pounds, perhaps the strangest aspect of all is that it left no crater when it came crashing down to Earth. Scientists have struggled to understand how this could happen, but some suggested that the massive rock may have slowed down as it penetrated Earth’s atmosphere to the point that much that the Hoba meteorite reached a point of terminal velocity only as it was about to impact the surface where it fell.
The remarkable weight of the meteorite has protected it over the years. As big and bulky as it is, ir has never been movedfrom its “impact” point, although it has been excavated. The meteorite was first found by a farmer, who happened to strike it while plowing. The farmer was named Hermanus Brits, and he stumbled on the piece in 1920 as he was working at the Hoba farm, which the meteorite is named for. Brits described the moment of discovery, explaining that only the upper part of the rock was visible at first. It was black although the soil around it was all chalky. “I scratched the rock with my knife and saw there was a shine beneath the surface, ” he said in a statement at the time. Local authorities soon arrived and identified it as a meteorite. The bulky rock is composed of 84 percent iron and 15 percent nickel, making it the most remarkable example ever encountered on Earth’s surface.
Due to the presence of a rare radioactive nickel isotope, experts have been able estimate the age of the meteorite at between 190 and 410 million years old. It most likely fell on Earth a little less than 80,000 years ago. The first serious scientific analyses of the meteorite were produced by 1929, and ever since it has been gaining fame, while also suffering from vandals who have stolen small parts. In order to protect the meteorite, local authorities have made efforts in to develop a manageable visitor site around Hoba. Additionally, the meteorite was designated as a national monument in Namibia 1955, which helped grant additional funding to protect the meteorite. By the late 80s, an information center to educate the public about the meteorite was also constructed on the site, helping to turn it into a tourist attraction. Of course, Namibia is not the first place most people think of planning their next great journey, but perhaps there is room for skeptics to learn more about the true origins of the meteorite. It has been speculated by some, since no natural source of iron anywhere near this large has ever been found before, that extraterrestrials may have had a hand in creating it.
It is known that nothing aside from humans has ever created a chunk of iron this large, and none has ever been found in space either. A large chunk of iron like this meteorite appears not to occur naturally according to all information scientists and researchers have been able to find. Only the future will tell, and only if research can be conducted to discover the true origins of the meteorite.