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Namibia’s star attraction: the Hoba Meteorite

Avatar of inke inke 03. November 2017 - Discover Namibia, Environment

The Hoba Meteorite on a farm between Grootfontein and Tsumeb.

Did you know that Namibia has the largest known intact meteorite in the world! 

And, it can be found between Tsumeb and Grootfontein in the Otjozondjupa Region.

The 60-ton, 2.7-metre-long chunk of iron fell through atmosphere some 80 000 years ago. It was discovered by chance in 1920 by Jacobus Hermanus Brits when he was ploughing his fields. It is composed of 84% iron and 16% nickel, with traces of cobalt.

A meteorite originates in outer space. It can be an asteroid or debris from an object like a comet that survives its passage through the Earth’s atmosphere and its impact with the Earth’s surface.

This is no mean feat, as meteorites can hit the Earth’s atmosphere travelling at about 90 000 kilometres an hour!

When it enters the atmosphere, the frictional heat causes the surface of the meteorite to start to melt and evaporate. The resulting gas shell of air and evaporated meteorite material is electrically charged (ionised) and glows brightly. At this stage, it is known as a meteor – or a shooting/falling star. Most meteors disintegrate shortly after entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Hoba Meteorite was declared a national monument in 1955. Today, it can be visited on the Hoba West farm; a rare opportunity to touch a shooting star.

Before sure to duck when you approach the ‘Beware of falling meteorites’ sign!

Namibia is also home to meteorites from the Gibeon-Meteorite-Shower or -Swarm, which were scattered over an area of 20 000km². Some of these, relatively smaller, chunks are displayed in the Post Street Mall and at the Geological Survey Museum in Windhoek.

Ron Swilling

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