Detailed map of the Atlantic, showing the tracks of the Challenger Expedition during the first 8 months of its 4 year expedition.
The Challenger expedition of 1872-76 was a scientific exercise that made many discoveries to lay the foundation of oceanography. The expedition was named after the mother vessel, HMS Challenger. Prompted Charles Wyville Thomson, the Royal Society of London obtained the use of Challenger from the Royal Navy and in 1872 modified the ship for scientific work, equipping her with separate laboratories for natural history and chemistry.
Under the scientific supervision of Thomson himself, she travelled nearly 70,000 nautical miles 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".
August Heinrich Petermann (1822-1878) is a renowned German cartographer of the nineteenth century. Petermann studied cartography at the Geographical Art-School in Potsdam before traveling to Edinburgh to work with Dr. A. Keith Johnston on an English edition of Berghaus’ Physical Atlas. Two years later he moved to London, where he made maps and advised exploratory expeditions as they set off to explore the interior of Africa and the Arctic.
In 1854, Petermann returned to Germany to be Director of the Geographical Institute of Justus Perthes in Gotha. There, he was the editor of the Geographische Mittheilungen and Stieler’s Handatlas. The Royal Geographical Society of London awarded him their Gold Medal in 1860. He continued his interest in exploration in Germany, fundraising for the German Exploring Expeditions of 1868 and 1869-70, which sought an open Arctic sea. Tragically, he committed suicide in 1878.