First oceanographic vessel
Last updated: January 27, 2020 at 4:10 am
HMS Challenger (1872) — In December 1872, Challenger sailed from Portsmouth (England) on a 3.5-year global oceanic expedition. The ship’s mission was exclusively scientific and was led by the academicians of the British Royal Society. Its objectives were to circumnavigate the globe, to take soundings at regular intervals, and to measure the physical and biological characteristics of the ocean, taking biological samples from the surface to the bottom using nets and dredges. Challenger was the first oceanographic vessel to sound the deepest point in Earth’s oceans, the namesake Challenger Deep, in the Mariana Trench. The ship traveled 68,890 nautical miles (127,666 km / 79.328 miles) through every ocean except the Arctic charting 363 million sq km (140 million sq miles) and collecting 4,417 new species of marine plants and animals. The findings of the Challenger science team would influence the world of biology and earth sciences for the next century. The oceanographic vessel was the namesake of the ill-fated space shuttle Challenger lost in 1986.