Built in England in 1858, the HMS Challenger, a wooden-steam-assisted Royal Navy corvette or warship, was converted to a scientific exploration vessel that enabled scientists to discover the deepest part of the ocean.
The Mariana Trench near Guam some 1,500 miles from the Philippines was discovered in 1875 after the Challenger left England in 1872 following the removal of 15 of its 17 guns to make room for laboratories.
The voyage began following alterations that were completed to provide storage facilities for sea specimens and adequate provisions that would sustain its three-and-one-half-years voyage during which more than 4,600 marine specimens were collected, some by deep sea nets.
Forty years after Charles Darwin’s five-year voyage around the world in the HMS Beagle, Charles Wyville Thompson, a professor and marine biologist at Edinburgh University, persuaded the Royal Society of London that a voyage to measure the depths of the ocean, collect and examine marine samples and record water temperatures would be a worthwhile expedition.
The 200-man crew with its team of scientists led by Thompson more than likely had no idea that they would discover a trench in the ocean so deep that Mount Everest, were it possible, could be flown there and dropped into the ocean without creating an island because its base would settle to the bottom with its peak out of sight a mile below the surface.
The depth of the southern-most part of the trench was sounded during the voyage in 1875, via a weighted-rope that determined the depth to be 4,475 fathoms, which is 26,850’ deep.
Challenger II in 1951 revisited the Mariana Trench and found the deepest part to be 35,876’, the deepest point on Earth, and that part came to be known as the Challenger Deep. The average depth of the oceans on Earth is 2.3 miles.
Scientists recently have been baffled about a metallic sound discovered deep in the Mariana Trench, unlike any sound ever heard or recorded.
After an autonomous vehicle deep within the Mariana Trench recorded the 3.5 seconds of the unique sound, extensive study has led marine biologists to conclude the sound is being produced by a low moan from a newly discovered type of baleen whale.
An anomaly concerning the water temperature near the bottom is that it ranges between 34 and 39 degrees F, but with some geothermal outlets in the depths, hot water that could scald a human escapes from beneath the ocean floor to create hot pockets at times.
Several unusual creatures have been discovered living in the depths of the Mariana Trench. Where light is dim at best or absent, barrel eye fish, deep-sea dragonfish, fang tooth fish, deep sea hatchet-fish, Mariana snail fish and fan fin sea devil fish have been discovered and are being studied by scientists.
Other creatures in the depths cohabitating with those fish are the frilled shark that is known to often swallow its prey alive, zombie worms, goblin sharks, telescope Octopi and granrojo jellyfish, a unique species that grows up to three feet in diameter.
Many museums in Ireland and the UK feature specimens gathered by the Challenger II crew, including the Natural History Museum in London and the Royal Albert Memorial & Art Gallery in Exeter, England.
The atmospheric pressure in the depths of the Mariana Trench is 1,000 times greater than on sea level, and what formed the crescent shaped trench remains unknown.
The American Space Shuttle Challenger that was named for Challenger II exploded on Jan. 26, 1986, due to the failure of its O-ring seal in its right SRB because of cold weather and wind shear, killing all seven of its crew just 73 seconds into flight.
While many mountain climbers have reached the peak of Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth, only two people on Earth have reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench.
Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh occupied the U.S. Navy-built bathyscaphe Trieste that explored the bottom in 1960, where the atmospheric pressure is 1,000 times greater than on the surface, pressure so great that if an unprotected human became exposed that the pressure would instantly crush the person, including the victim’s bones.