Short History of the Most Important Expeditions Revealed Earth’s Biggest Secrets
The age of expeditions is as old as that of the human species. But for a very long time, humans were not aware of how to keep records of their findings that would last over millennia and reach us.
However, as soon as they could put their thoughts and discoveries in writing and drawing, people did so. That’s how we knew that brave explorers stepped into the unknown oceans. The explorers went deep inside unknown continents to find out other existing civilization. They tried to exploit valuable resources. For these explorers, Earth’s biggest secrets were quite intriguing.
Here are few of the most Famous Expeditions of the past Leading to Earth’s Biggest Secrets
• Marco Polo’s Travels (1271 – 1298)
The Italian explorer, born in Venice, came from a wealthy family of merchants. His journey was prompted by Pope Gregory X, who wrote some letters for Mongol leader Kublai Khan. Marco Polo’s journey took him through Armenia, Persia, and Afghanistan. He crossed the Pamir Mountains and the Gobi desert and finally arrived in Cathay (nowadays known as China).
Marco Polo spent 17 years at Kublai Khan’s court. He held various offices and led further expeditions to India and Burma. Before returning to Italy he wrote his book, titled The Million Lies. But later on, reprinted as The Travels of Marco Polo. This made it one of the expeditions that could reveal some of Earth’s biggest secrets in 2019.
• Ferdinand Magellan’s Journey around the Globe
Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan lived in an area where the New World (the Americas) split between the spheres of influence of Portugal and Spain. Magellan wanted to test the idea that the Molucca Islands (known as the Spice Islands) belonged to the Spanish side, across the globe. He set sail from Spain on the 20th of September 1519 with a fleet of five ships.
Magellan’s expedition took him to Brazil, then south following the coastline of South America and then through the Strait of Magellan (which he discovered) towards Guam and the Phillippines.
Magellan did not live to see his expedition completed. He died in battle during a raid. The surviving crew arrived in Seville nearly three years after the departure, on the 8th of September 1522. This expedition by Ferdinand Magellan was also one of the many expeditions that revealed some of Earth’s biggest secrets in 2019.
• Charles Darwin’s Journey Aboard HMS Beagle
Famed naturalist, father of the theory of evolution and author of the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin tested and proved many of his theories during a 5-year journey at the board of HMS Beagle.
Darwin’s expedition began on the 27th of December 1831 and explored the South American coastline. It revealed some of Earth’s biggest secrets.
The journey expanded far beyond its scope. It reached remote lands such as the Galapagos Islands, Cocos Islands, and the southern coast of Australia.
• Sir Edmund Hillary’s Expedition to Everest Revealed Earth’s Biggest Secrets
On the 29th of May 1953, New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and local Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were the first two people who reached the peak of the highest mountain in the world – Mount Everest (8848 meters or 29,029 feet).
7 Expeditions That Could Reveal Some of Earth’s Biggest Secrets
1. The Expedition to Thwaites Glacier
This expedition will start in the summer of 2019 and will be conducted by the US National Science Foundation in collaboration with the Natural Environmental Research Council in Great Britain.
The team of researchers will travel to West Antarctica, at the Thwaites Glacier. This glacier raises special interest. It acts as a stopper that holds back enormous masses of ice revealing Earth’s biggest secret.
If the Thwaite Glacier melts, massive amounts of ice would reach the ocean, melt and significantly increase the sea level, according to Live Science. The researchers wanted to know the exact condition of the glacier at present and assess its evolution in the short and medium term.
In an official statement, the assistant director of the National Science Foundation, William Easterling, said: “Satellites show the Thwaites region is changing rapidly. To answer the key questions of how much and how fast sea level will change we need scientists on the ground with sophisticated equipment collecting the data. We need to measure rates of ice-volume or ice-mass change.” This was an example of an expedition that revealed some of Earth’s biggest secrets in 2019.
2. Drilling Through Nankai Trough to Understand Earthquakes
The Nankai Trough is situated deep in the Pacific Ocean, in the south-west of the coast of Japan. Nankai is a place where one of the tectonic plates of Earth is slipping beneath another. As a result, it has one of the highest seismic activities on Earth. The Nankai Trough was the place of origin of the devastating 8.1 magnitude earthquake of 1944.
This year, a team of scientists will run the Nankai Trough Seismogenic Zone Experiment by drilling on the area. They want to collect samples and understand why and how earthquakes occur in the area.
The samples need analysis to learn more about their physical state (slippery or stable) to help scientists understand the conditions that might lead to another catastrophic earthquake. This experiment became a part of the expeditions that revealed some of Earth’s biggest secrets in 2019.
3. ICESat-2 – NASA Is Mapping the Ice of Antarctica
NASA is putting its network of satellites to work extra this year in the Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite-2 project. Its aim is to take a detailed look at the poles of the Earth. NASA will track the changing thickness of the ice sheet and create one of the most detailed maps of remote areas.
The program launched in September 2018. It is still going on.
4. A Study of Coral Reefs around Hawaii
Coral reefs are amazing ecosystems and a barometer of the health of oceans. These beautiful formations inhabited by tiny creatures are quite vulnerable to pollution, especially to carbon dioxide.
In September 2019, a team of researchers will head to Hawaii to analyze the coral reef around some of its islands. The team will select 11 areas for drilling, to collect fossilized coral reef samples.
By drilling at various depths, the scientists hope to have a clear picture of the evolution of carbon dioxide levels in the oceans.
The coral reefs are witnesses to half a million years of geological history. Thus, these samples give a clear picture of how human civilization affect marine life over the years.
5. NASA’s GEDI Monitors Forests across the Globe
The Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) instrument developed by NASA launched towards the International Space Station on the 8th of December 2018. After it is installed on the outside of the station, scientists will be able to record highly detailed 3D images of the temperate and tropical forests on earth.
GEDI will help detect the quantity of carbon stored in trees and how continued deforestations influence climate change.
According to the official site of the GEDI project, scientists will be able to quantify the potential for existing and new forests to store carbon in the future. The scientists will model de spatial and temporal distribution of habitat structure and its influence on biodiversity.
6. An Expedition in the Deepest Areas of the Biosphere
Life is teeming below the surface of seas and oceans, and the Deep Carbon Observatory wants to know more about it. This expedition has been going on for a decade. This year in October, the researchers will reveal the most significant findings in an international conference held in Washington, DC.
The focus of the conference, according to the website of the the Deep Carbon Observatory, will be “the nature and extent of carbon present in the Earth’s core, the nature of the whole Earth carbon cycle and how has it changed over Earth’s history, and the mechanisms that govern microbial evolution and dispersal in the deep biosphere”.
7. NASA Drills to Explore Sub-Glacial Lake in Antarctica – Uncovers some of Earth’s Biggest Secrets
NASA is likely to lead the race of scientific expeditions this year. In this instance, a team of researchers is currently drilling to the ice of Antarctica to reach Lake Mercer, which is buried at 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) under the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.
The purpose of this expedition is to study the body of water, which is completely isolated from the rest of the ecosystems of Earth.
Researchers are keen to find out what forms of lives exist here, in these exceptional conditions. Now they were more curious to know about Earth’s biggest secrets.
Once the drill bit reaches the lake, the researchers will lower special equipment to collect samples and take photos of a place which no human eye has seen before. You can monitor the evolution of this expedition on its official website.
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