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Mbale, Uganda – Cure from the Heavens

In a CBS news article, it listed Mbale as one of the top five strangest meteorites you can buy. The others were Valera (cow killer), Almahata Sitta (only asteroid/meteorite tracked to Earth), Peekskill (striking a Chevy Malibu car), and Ensisheim (chained up in a church to keep it Earth-bound).

On 14 August 1992 at around 3:40 pm, a meteorite fell in Mbale, Uganda. There was a deafening explosion which occurred over a densely populated city of Mbale, Uganda. There was a shower of rocks which ranged in size from 0.1 grams to 27.4 kg. Scientists estimated that the original meteor weighed upwards of 2,000 pounds (907 kg). The approximate recovered weight was 108 kg. In one of only two documented cases of a meteorite striking someone, a small meteorite fell through the leaves of a banana tree and hit a young boy on the head. He was not hurt.


23.37 gram Mbale half stone with Ruben Garcia label.

 


23.37 Mbale showing the other side with dark fusion crust and several peek a boo views of the matrix.

 

An expedition was organized by the Dutch Meteor Society, the Leiden Observatory, and Makerere University between August 29 and September 5th, 1992. They located 48 impact positions of masses. Mbale classified it as an ordinary chondrite (L5/6).

 


A closer look at the cut side of the L5/6 with a dark impact melt vein running across the meteorite.

 

In the 1990’s, Uganda was ravaged by AIDS, and there was no cure. The desperate people of Mbale thought their prayers were answered by the cure that rained down from the Heavens. Many of the meteorites were ground up and ingested or applied topically. To put this in perspective, by 1994, AIDS became the leading cause of death for all Americans ages 25 – 44 years old. Not just in Africa, but the entire world was hoping for a miracle cure.

 


Another look at the fusion crusted side.

 


The cure from the Heavens that was not, for those desperate people of Uganda.

References:

The Mbale Meteorite Shower – NASA/ADS

Mbale – The Meteoritical Society – Meteoritical Bulletin Database

Top five strange meteorites you can buy – X-SCITECH – Wynne Parry – CBS News

MBale – Christie’s

On this day in Space: Aug. 14 (1992): Meteorite Shower Hits Uganda – MSN

Origins of Meteorites – Meteorite Collection – UCLA

Catalogue of Meteorites (5th Edition) Monica M. Grady, The Natural History Museum

1990s HIV/AIDS Timeline – American Psychological Association

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

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