Challenger expedition
The Challenger expedition of 1872–76 was a scientific exercise that made many discoveries to lay the foundation of oceanography
Oceanography , also called oceanology or marine science, is the branch of Earth science that studies the ocean...

. The expedition was named after the mother vessel, HMS
HMS Challenger (1858)
HMS Challenger was a steam-assisted Royal Navy Pearl-class corvette launched on 13 February 1858 at the Woolwich Dockyard. She was the flagship of the Australia Station between 1866 and 1870....


Prompted by the Scot, Charles Wyville Thomson
Charles Wyville Thomson
Sir Charles Wyville Thomson was a Scottish zoologist and chief scientist on the Challenger expedition.-Career:...

—of the University of Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1583, is a public research university located in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The university is deeply embedded in the fabric of the city, with many of the buildings in the historic Old Town belonging to the university...

 and Merchiston Castle School
Merchiston Castle School
Merchiston Castle School is an independent school for boys in the village of Colinton in Edinburgh, Scotland. It has about 480 pupils and is open to boys between the ages of 8 and 18 as either boarders or day pupils; day pupils make up 35% of the school....

—the Royal Society of London obtained the use of
Challenger from the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 and in 1872 modified the ship for scientific work, equipping her with separate laboratories for natural history
Natural history
Natural history is the scientific research of plants or animals, leaning more towards observational rather than experimental methods of study, and encompasses more research published in magazines than in academic journals. Grouped among the natural sciences, natural history is the systematic study...

 and chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....