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An illustration of the ship.


The Challenger expedition' of 1872-77 was a scientific expedition that made many discoveries to lay the foundation of oceanography, named after the mother vessel, HMS Challenger.

Prompted by the Scotmarker, Charles Wyville Thomson—of the University of Edinburgh and Merchiston Castle Schoolmarker—the Royal Society of London obtained the use of Challenger from the Royal Navy and in 1872 modified it for scientific work, equipping her with separate laboratories for natural history and chemistry.

The ship, commanded by Captain George Nares, sailed from Portsmouthmarker, England, on 21 December 1872. Under the scientific supervision of Thomson himself, she travelled nearly surveying and exploring. The result was the Report Of The Scientific Results of the Exploring Voyage of H.M.S. Challenger during the years 1873-76 which, among many other discoveries, catalogued over 4,000 previously unknown species. John Murray, who supervised the publication, described the report as "the greatest advance in the knowledge of our planet since the celebrated discoveries of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries". Challenger sailed close to Antarctica, but not within sight of it.

Challenger returned to Spitheadmarker, Hampshire on 24 May 1876, having spent 713 days at sea out of the intervening 1,606. On her journey, she conducted 492 deep sea soundings, 133 bottom dredges, 151 open water trawls, 263 serial water temperature observations, and discovered about 4,700 new species of marine life. Copies of the written records of the Challenger Expedition are now stored in several marine institutions around the UK including the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton and the Dove Marine Laboratorymarker in Cullercoatsmarker, Tyne and Wear. The complete set of reports of the Challenger Expedition, written between 1877 and 1895, are available online at http://19thcenturyscience.org.

The Space Shuttle Challenger was named after HMS Challenger.

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