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On-line Exhibit for HMS CHALLENGER

The historic voyage of HMS CHALLENGER, conducted from 1872-1876, is considered to be the first expedition undertaken specifically to conduct oceanographic research. The vessel was a three-masted square-rigged wooden ship of 2,300 tons displacement and 200 feet overall. It was essentially a sailing ship though it was modified to include a triple expansion steam engine of 1,200 horsepower. Its around-the-globe journey covered almost 69,000 nautical miles and gathered data on temperature, currents, water chemistry, marine organisms, and bottom deposits at 362 oceanographic stations. The scientific results of the voyage were published in a 50-volume, 29,500-page report that took 23 years to compile. Many of the detailed drawings of flora and fauna in the report provide much of the basis of modern marine biology.

JMS and the Ocean Technology Foundation were tasked by the College of Exploration to create an interactive virtual tour of the H.M.S. Challenger using computer animation.

An animated tour was developed of the ship’s exterior and interior, laboratory spaces, a naturalist’s berth, engine and boiler room spaces and working animations of two scientific, specimen gathering instruments. The vessel, all of its relevant associated parts and the scientific equipment have been modeled as accurately as possible and faithfully reproduced from the existing ship drawings, sketches and photographs. The animations will be downloadable allowing the web visitor to play them just like a VCR. The objective of the animations is to allow the viewer to experience and appreciate what the daily challenges of life, work and conducting research at sea would be like on a period vessel such as the H.M.S. Challenger; the state of the art of its time.

The animations are available on the web to researchers, teachers and students through the College of Exploration’s website: