Circumnavigation is the complete navigation around an entire island, continent, or astronomical body (e.g. a planet or moon). This article focuses on the circumnavigation of Earth. The first circumnavigation of Earth was the Magellan-Elcano expedition, which sailed from Seville, Spain in 1519 and returned in 1522, after crossing the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans.
The word circumnavigation is a noun formed from the verb circumnavigate, from the past participle of the Latin verb circumnavigare, from circum "around" + navigare "to sail" (see further Navigation § Etymology).
If a person walks completely around either Pole, he crosses all meridians, but this is not generally considered a "circumnavigation". The trajectory of a true (global) circumnavigation forms a continuous loop on the surface of Earth separating two-halves of comparable area. A basic definition of a global circumnavigation would be a route which covers roughly a great circle, and in particular one which passes through at least one pair of points antipodal to each other. In practice, people use different definitions of world circumnavigation to accommodate practical constraints, depending on the method of travel. Since the planet is quasispheroidal, a trip from one Pole to the other, and back again on the other side, would technically be a circumnavigation, but practical difficulties generally preclude such a voyage although it was successfully undertaken in the early 1980s by Ranulph Fiennes.
The first single voyage of global circumnavigation was that of the ship Victoria, between 1519 and 1522, known as the Magellan–Elcano expedition. It was a Castilian (Spanish) voyage of discovery, led initially by the Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan between 1519 and 1521, and then by the Spanish Juan Sebastián Elcano from 1521 to 1522. The voyage started in Seville, crossed the Atlantic Ocean, and after several stopovers rounded the southern tip of South America where the expedition discovered the Strait of Magellan, named after the fleet's captain. It then continued across the Pacific discovering a number of islands on its way, including Guam before arriving in the Philippines. After Magellan's death in the Philippines in 1521, Elcano took command of the expedition and continued the journey across the Indian Ocean, round the Cape of Good Hope, north along the Atlantic Ocean, and back to Spain in 1522. Elcano and a small group of 18 men were actually the only members of the expedition to make the full circumnavigation.
Apart from some scholars, it is not generally accepted that Magellan and some crew members (possibly some other Portuguese and the Malay-Sumatrese Enrique of Malacca, who survived to the Philippines and Borneo) previously completed a full circumnavigation on several voyages, since Sumatra and Malacca (where Magellan had been twice before, in 1509 and in 1511–1512) lie southwest of Cebu (Philippines). If he had also been in the Moluccas islands (located southeast of Cebu) in early 1512 (dubious and controversial), he completed and clearly exceeded an entire circumnavigation of Earth in longitude—though one circumnavigation in the strict sense implies a return to the same exact point. However, traveling west from Europe, in 1521, Magellan reached a region of Southeast Asia (in the Malay Archipelago), which he had reached on previous voyages traveling east. Magellan thereby achieved a nearly complete personal circumnavigation of the globe for the first time in history.
In 1577, Elizabeth I sent Francis Drake to start an expedition against the Spanish along the Pacific coast of the Americas. Drake set out from Plymouth, England in November 1577, aboard Pelican, which Drake renamed Golden Hind mid-voyage. In September 1578, he passed through the southern tip of South America, named Drake Passage, which connects the southwestern part of the Atlantic Ocean with the southeastern part of the Pacific Ocean. In June 1579, Drake landed somewhere north of Spain's northern-most claim in Alta California, which is known as Drakes Bay, California. Drake completed the second circumnavigation of the world in September 1580, becoming the first commander to lead an entire circumnavigation.
For the wealthy, long voyages around the world, such as was done by Ulysses S. Grant, became possible in the 19th century, and the two World Wars moved vast numbers of troops around the planet. However, it was later improvements in technology and rising incomes that made such trips relatively common.
The nautical global and fastest circumnavigation record is currently held by a wind-powered vessel, the trimaran IDEC 3. The record was established by six sailors: Francis Joyon, Alex Pella, Clément Surtel, Gwénolé Gahinet, Sébastien Audigane and Bernard Stamm; who wrote themselves into history books on 26 January 2017, by circumnavigating the globe in 40 days, 23 hours, 30 minutes and 30 seconds. The absolute speed sailing record around the world followed the North Atlantic Ocean, Equator, South Atlantic Ocean, Southern Ocean, South Atlantic Ocean, Equator, North Atlantic Ocean route in an easterly direction.
The map on the right shows, in red, a typical, non-competitive, route for a sailing circumnavigation of the world by the trade winds and the Suez and Panama canals; overlaid in yellow are the points antipodal to all points on the route. It can be seen that the route roughly approximates a great circle, and passes through two pairs of antipodal points. This is a route followed by many cruising sailors, going in the western direction; the use of the trade winds makes it a relatively easy sail, although it passes through a number of zones of calms or light winds.
In yacht racing, a round-the-world route approximating a great circle would be quite impractical, particularly in a non-stop race where use of the Panama and Suez Canals would be impossible. Yacht racing therefore defines a world circumnavigation to be a passage of at least 21,600 nautical miles (40,000 km) in length which crosses the equator, crosses every meridian and finishes in the same port as it starts. The second map on the right shows the route of the Vendée Globe round-the-world race in red; overlaid in yellow are the points antipodal to all points on the route. It can be seen that the route does not pass through any pairs of antipodal points. Since the winds in the higher southern latitudes predominantly blow west-to-east it can be seen that there are an easier route (west-to-east) and a harder route (east-to-west) when circumnavigating by sail; this difficulty is magnified for square-rig vessels.
For around the world sailing records, there is a rule saying that the length must be at least 21,600 nautical miles calculated along the shortest possible track from the starting port and back that does not cross land and does not go below 63°S. It is allowed to have one single waypoint to lengthen the calculated track. The equator must be crossed.
The solo wind powered circumnavigation record of 42 days, 16 hours, 40 minutes and 35 seconds was established by François Gabart on the maxi-multihull sailing yacht MACIF and completed on 7 December 2017. The voyage followed the North Atlantic Ocean, Equator, South Atlantic Ocean, Southern Ocean, South Atlantic Ocean, Equator, North Atlantic Ocean route in an easterly direction.
Since the advent of world cruises in 1922, by Cunard's Laconia, thousands of people have completed circumnavigations of the globe at a more leisurely pace. Typically, these voyages begin in New York City or Southampton, and proceed westward. Routes vary, either travelling through the Caribbean and then into the Pacific Ocean via the Panama Canal, or around Cape Horn. From there ships usually make their way to Hawaii, the islands of the South Pacific, Australia, New Zealand, then northward to Hong Kong, South East Asia, and India. At that point, again, routes may vary: one way is through the Suez Canal and into the Mediterranean; the other is around Cape of Good Hope and then up the west coast of Africa. These cruises end in the port where they began.
The current mechanically powered circumnavigation record of 60 days 23 hours and 49 minutes was established by a voyage of the wave-piercing trimaran Earthrace which was completed on 27 June 2008. The voyage followed the North Atlantic Ocean, Panama Canal, Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, Suez Canal, Mediterranean Sea route in a westerly direction.
Since the development of commercial aviation at least tens of thousands of people have flown around the world. Some regular routes, such as Pan American Flight One (and later United Airlines Flight One), circled the globe, and today planning such a trip through connections is simple.
Aviation records take account of the wind circulation patterns of the world; in particular the jet streams, which circulate in the northern and southern hemispheres without crossing the equator. There is therefore no requirement to cross the equator, or to pass through two antipodal points, in the course of setting a round-the-world aviation record. Thus, for example, Steve Fossett's global circumnavigation by balloon was entirely contained within the southern hemisphere.
For powered aviation, the course of a round-the-world record must start and finish at the same point and cross all meridians; the course must be at least 36,770 kilometres (19,850 nmi) long (which is approximately the length of the Tropic of Cancer). The course must include set control points at latitudes outside the Arctic and Antarctic circles.
In ballooning, which is totally at the mercy of the winds, the requirements are even more relaxed. The course must cross all meridians, and must include a set of checkpoints which are all outside of two circles, chosen by the pilot, having radii of 3,335.85 kilometres (2,072.80 mi) and enclosing the poles (though not necessarily centred on them).
Flight started at 63° E and ended 45° E longitude, thus Yuri Gagarin did not circumnavigate Earth completely.
According to adjudicating bodies Guinness World Records and Explorersweb, Jason Lewis completed the first human-powered circumnavigation of the globe on 6 October 2007. This was part of a thirteen-year journey entitled Expedition 360.
In 2012, Turkish-born American adventurer Erden Eruç completed the first entirely solo human-powered circumnavigation, travelling by rowboat, sea kayak, foot and bicycle from 10 July 2007 to 21 July 2012, crossing the equator twice, passing over 12 antipodal points, and logging 66,299 kilometres (41,196 mi) in 1,026 days of travel time, excluding breaks.
National Geographic lists Colin Angus as being the first to complete a global circumnavigation. However, his journey did not cross the equator or hit the minimum of two antipodal points as stipulated by the rules of Guinness World Records and AdventureStats by Explorersweb.
People have both bicycled and run around the world, but the oceans have had to be covered by air or sea travel, making the distance shorter than the Guinness guidelines. To go from North America to Asia on foot is theoretically possible but very difficult. It involves crossing the Bering Strait on the ice, and around 3,000 kilometres (1,900 mi) of roadless swamped or freezing cold areas in Alaska and eastern Russia. No one has so far travelled all of this route by foot. David Kunst was the first verified person to walk around the world between 20 June 1970 and 10 October 1974.
Although Robert's record attempt finished in 2003, it has taken 5 years to collate and confirm the record evidence [...] We are very cautious to accept records like this because they are difficult to certify, however Robert has provided us with full evidence which enabled us to authenticate his amazing achievement. We initially evaluated 15 boxes full of credit card statements, receipts in Robert's name and other useful evidence, which supported Robert's presence in all of the 29 countries within the time specified. We then moved on to establish whether Robert had actually been running and started to look through an astronomical number of pictures and newspaper cuttings from different parts of Robert's route. We also reviewed over 300 time-coded tapes featuring Robert running at different locations during his journey. We could finally double check the route followed through statements from several witnesses, and passports stamps and visas...
Antonio Pigafetta (Italian: [anˈtɔːnjo piɡaˈfetta]; c. 1491 – c. 1531) was an Italian scholar and explorer from the Republic of Venice. He joined the expedition to the Spice Islands led by explorer Ferdinand Magellan under the flag of King Charles I of Spain and, after Magellan's death in the Philippines, the subsequent voyage around the world. During the expedition, he served as Magellan's assistant and kept an accurate journal which later assisted him in translating the Cebuano language. It is the first recorded document concerning the language.
Pigafetta was one of the 18 men who returned to Spain in 1522, under the command of Juan Sebastián Elcano, out of the approximately 240 who set out three years earlier. These men completed the first circumnavigation of the world. Pigafetta's surviving journal is the source for much of what is known about Magellan and Elcano's voyage.
At least one warship of the Italian Navy, a destroyer of the Navigatori class, was named after him in 1931.Enrique of Malacca
Enrique of Malacca (Spanish: Enrique de Malaca; Portuguese: Henrique de Malaca; Malay: Panglima Awang), was acquired as a slave in Melaka by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who subsequently took him on the first (Spanish) circumnavigation of the world in 1519- 22. Italian historian Antonio Pigafetta, who wrote the most comprehensive account of Magellan's voyage, named him "Henrique" (which was Hispanicised as Enrique in official Spanish documents). According to biographer-philosopher Stefan Zweig, he is the first person to circumnavigate the world. His name appears as "enrique", which is Portuguese. His name appears only in Pigafetta's account, in Magellan's Last Will, and in official documents at the Casa de Contratación de las Indias of the Magellan expedition to the Philippines.
As set out in Magellan's document Last Will, Magellan acquired Enrique as a slave at Malacca, most probably at the early stages of the siege by the Portuguese in 1511, at age 14 years. Though Maggellan's will calls him "a native of Malacca", the chronicler of the circumnavigation, Pigafetta, states that he was a native of Sumatra -- equally possible given the polyglot migrant population of Melaka
Originally named Awang, he was called Henrique by the Portuguese. Eyewitness documents of Antonio Pigafetta, Ginés de Mafra, the Genoese pilot, Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas, Juan Sebastián Elcano, and Bartolomé de las Casas, and secondary sources such as João de Barros and Francisco López de Gómara, refer to him as a slave.Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen
Fabian Gottlieb Thaddeus von Bellingshausen (Russian: Фадде́й Фадде́евич Беллинсга́узен, tr. Faddéy Faddéevich Bellinsgáuzen; 20 September [O.S. 9 September] 1778 – 25 January [O.S. 13 January] 1852), a Baltic German naval officer in the Imperial Russian Navy, cartographer and explorer, who ultimately rose to the rank of admiral. He participated in the First Russian circumnavigation of the globe and subsequently became a leader of another circumnavigation expedition that discovered the continent of Antarctica.
Bellingshausen started his service in the Russian Baltic Fleet, and after distinguishing himself joined the First Russian circumnavigation of the Earth in 1803–1806, serving on the merchant ship Nadezhda under the captaincy of Adam Johann von Krusenstern. After the journey he published a collection of maps of the newly explored areas and islands of the Pacific Ocean. Subsequently, he commanded several ships of the Baltic and Black Sea Fleets.
As a prominent cartographer, Bellingshausen was appointed to command the Russian circumnavigation of the globe in 1819–1821, intended to explore the Southern Ocean and to find land in the proximity of the South Pole. Mikhail Lazarev prepared the expedition and was made Bellingshausen's second-in-command and the captain of the sloop Mirny, while Bellingshausen himself commanded the sloop Vostok. During this expedition Bellingshausen and Lazarev became the first explorers to see the land of Antarctica on 27 January 1820 (New Style). They circumnavigated the continent twice and never lost each other from view. Thus they disproved Captain Cook's assertion that it was impossible to find land in the southern ice-fields. The expedition discovered and named Peter I Island, Zavodovski, Leskov and Visokoi Islands, the Antarctic Peninsula and Alexander Island (Alexander Coast), and made other discoveries in the tropical waters of the Pacific.
Made counter admiral on his return, Bellingshausen participated in the Russo-Turkish War of 1828–1829. Promoted to vice-admiral, he again served in the Baltic Fleet in 1830s, and from 1839 he was the military governor of Kronstadt, where he died. In 1831 he published the book on his Antarctic travels, called Double Investigation of the Southern Polar Ocean and the Voyage Around the World (Двукратные изыскания в южнополярном океане и плавание вокруг света). Russians remember him as one of their greatest admirals and explorers. Multiple geographical features and locations in the Antarctic, named in honor of Bellingshausen, commemorate his role in the exploration of the southern polar region.Ferdinand Magellan
Ferdinand Magellan ( or ; Portuguese: Fernão de Magalhães, IPA: [fɨɾˈnɐ̃w dɨ mɐɣɐˈʎɐ̃jʃ]; Spanish: Fernando de Magallanes, IPA: [feɾˈnando ðe maɣaˈʎanes]; c. 1480 – 27 April 1521) was a Portuguese explorer who organised the Spanish expedition to the East Indies from 1519 to 1522, resulting in the first circumnavigation of the Earth, completed by Juan Sebastián Elcano.
Born into a family of the Portuguese nobility in around 1480, Magellan became a skilled sailor and naval officer and was eventually selected by King Charles I of Spain to search for a westward route to the Maluku Islands (the "Spice Islands"). Commanding a fleet of five vessels, he headed south through the Atlantic Ocean to Patagonia, passing through the Strait of Magellan into a body of water he named the "peaceful sea" (the modern Pacific Ocean). Despite a series of storms and mutinies, the expedition reached the Spice Islands in 1521 and returned home via the Indian Ocean to complete the first circuit of the globe. Magellan did not complete the entire voyage, as he was killed during the Battle of Mactan in the Philippines in 1521. His gift, the Santo Niño de Cebú image, remains one of his legacies during his arrival.Magellan had already reached the Malay Archipelago in Southeast Asia on previous voyages traveling east (from 1505 to 1511–1512). By visiting this area again but now travelling west, Magellan achieved a nearly complete personal circumnavigation of the globe for the first time in history.The Magellanic penguin is named after him, as he was the first European to note it. Magellan's navigational skills have also been acknowledged in the naming of objects associated with the stars, including the Magellanic Clouds, now known to be two nearby dwarf galaxies; the twin lunar craters of Magelhaens and Magelhaens A; and the Martian crater of Magelhaens.First Russian circumnavigation
The first Russian circumnavigation of the Earth took place from August 1803 to August 1806. It was sponsored by Count Nikolay Rumyantsev, funded by the Russian-American Company, and was headed by Adam Johann von Krusenstern. In addition to its exploratory goals, the expedition was also meant to help establish diplomatic and economic relations between Russia and Japan, for which the party included a large diplomatic delegation headed by Court Chamberlain and Ambassador Nikolai Rezanov.First aerial circumnavigation
The first aerial circumnavigation of the world was conducted in 1924 by a team of aviators of the United States Army Air Service, the precursor of the United States Air Force. The trip took 175 days, covering over 27,553 miles (44,342 km).
In 1929 Australian Charles Kingsford Smith completed the second circumnavigation of the world by flight, and the first within both hemispheres, including the first trans-Pacific flight to Australia in 1928.Freya Hoffmeister
Freya Hoffmeister (born 10 May 1964) is a German business owner and athlete who holds several sea kayaking endurance records. In 2009 she completed a circumnavigation of Australia solo and unassisted, becoming the first woman and only the second person to do so. On 3 May 2015, she became the first person to solo circumnavigate the continent of South America.Jessica Watson
Jessica Watson, OAM (born 18 May 1993) is an Australian sailor who was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for completing a southern hemisphere solo circumnavigation at the age of 16.
Departing Sydney on 18 October 2009, Watson headed north-east crossing the equator in the Pacific Ocean before crossing the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. She returned to Sydney on 15 May 2010, three days before her 17th birthday. The voyage was shorter than the required 21,600 nautical miles to be considered a global circumnavigation, and Watson never claimed the voyage to be an attempt at such, preferring the less formal term 'around the world'. In recognition of her achievement Watson was named the 2011 Young Australian of the Year, and the following year was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia. She currently resides in Buderim, Queensland.Juan Sebastián Elcano
Juan Sebastián Elcano (sometimes misspelled del Cano; c.1486–4 August 1526) was a Spanish explorer of Basque origin who completed the first circumnavigation of the Earth. After Magellan's death in the Philippines, Elcano took command of the carrack Victoria from the Moluccas to Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Spain.List of circumnavigations
This is a list of circumnavigations of the planet Earth. Sections are ordered by ascending date of completion of voyage.Louis Antoine de Bougainville
Louis-Antoine, Comte de Bougainville (French: [buɡɛ̃vil]; 12 November 1729 – 31 August 1811) was a French admiral and explorer. A contemporary of the British explorer James Cook, he took part in the Seven Years' War in North America and the American Revolutionary War against Britain. Bougainville later gained fame for his expeditions, including circumnavigation of the globe in a scientific expedition in 1763, the first recorded settlement on the Falkland Islands, and voyages into the Pacific Ocean. Bougainville Island of Papua New Guinea as well as the Bougainvillea flower were named after him.Operation Sandblast
Operation Sandblast was the code name for the first submerged circumnavigation of the world, executed by the United States Navy nuclear-powered radar picket submarine USS Triton (SSRN-586) in 1960 under the command of Captain Edward L. Beach Jr.. The New York Times described Triton's submerged circumnavigation of the Earth as "a triumph of human prowess and engineering skill, a feat which the United States Navy can rank as one of its bright victories in man's ultimate conquest of the seas."The circumnavigation took place between 24 February and 25 April 1960, covering 26,723 nautical miles (49,491 km; 30,752 mi) over 60 days and 21 hours. The route began and ended at the St. Peter and Paul Rocks in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean near the Equator. During the voyage, Triton crossed the Equator four times while maintaining an average speed of 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph). Triton's overall navigational track during Operation Sandblast generally followed that of the first circumnavigation of the world led by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan from 1519 to 1522.
The initial impetus for Operation Sandblast was to increase American technological and scientific prestige before the May 1960 Paris Summit between President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. It also provided a high-profile public demonstration of the capability of U.S. Navy nuclear-powered submarines to carry out long-range submerged operations independent of external support and undetected by hostile forces, presaging the initial deployment of the Navy's Polaris ballistic missile submarines later in 1960. Finally, Operation Sandblast gathered extensive oceanographic, hydrographic, gravimetric, geophysical, and psychological data during Triton's circumnavigation.
Official celebrations were cancelled for Operation Sandblast following the diplomatic furor arising from the 1960 U-2 incident in which a U-2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union in early May. However, Triton did receive the Presidential Unit Citation with a special clasp in the form of a golden replica of the globe in recognition of the successful completion of its mission, and Captain Beach received the Legion of Merit for his role as Triton's commanding officer. In 1961, Beach received the Magellanic Premium from the American Philosophical Society, the United States' oldest and most prestigious scientific award in "recognition of his navigation of the U.S. submarine Triton around the globe."Paul Caffyn
Paul Caffyn is a sea kayaker based on the west coast of New Zealand. He has completed a number of supported, unsupported, solo and group expeditions by sea kayak in various locations around the world. He has been described as follows by John Dowd
Amongst sea kayakers Paul Caffyn is almost in a class of his own. For the longest time after he finished his awesome solo circumnavigation of Australia the silence was deafening: few of his peers knew the significance of what he had done, and perhaps those who understood felt lost in his shadows. Not only is Paul's Australian adventure a pinnacle for sea kayaking, it should eventually be recognized as one of the great small voyages of recent history along with those of Slocum, Shackleton and Franz Romer."
Caffyn was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2012 New Year Honours, for services to sea kayaking and water safety.Robin Knox-Johnston
Sir William Robert Patrick "Robin" Knox-Johnston RD and bar (born 17 March 1939) is a British sailor. In 1969, he became the first person to perform a single-handed non-stop circumnavigation of the globe. Along with Sir Peter Blake, he won the second Jules Verne Trophy, for which they were also named the ISAF Yachtsman of the Year award. In 2007, at the age of 67, he set a record as the oldest yachtsman to complete a round the world solo voyage in the Velux 5 Oceans Race.Solar Impulse
Solar Impulse is a Swiss long-range experimental solar-powered aircraft project, and also the name of the project's two operational aircraft. The privately financed project is led by Swiss engineer and businessman André Borschberg and Swiss psychiatrist and balloonist Bertrand Piccard, who co-piloted Breitling Orbiter 3, the first balloon to circle the world non-stop. The Solar Impulse project's goals were to make the first circumnavigation of the Earth by a piloted fixed-wing aircraft using only solar power and to bring attention to clean technologies.The aircraft is a single-seated monoplane powered by photovoltaic cells; it is capable of taking off under its own power. The prototype, often referred to as Solar Impulse 1, was designed to remain airborne up to 36 hours. It conducted its first test flight in December 2009. In July 2010, it flew an entire diurnal solar cycle, including nearly nine hours of night flying, in a 26-hour flight. Piccard and Borschberg completed successful solar-powered flights from Switzerland to Spain and then Morocco in 2012, and conducted a multi-stage flight across the US in 2013.A second aircraft, completed in 2014 and named Solar Impulse 2, carries more solar cells and more powerful motors, among other improvements. On 9 March 2015, Piccard and Borschberg began to circumnavigate the globe with Solar Impulse 2, departing from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The aircraft was scheduled to return to Abu Dhabi in August 2015 after a multi-stage journey around the world. By June 2015, the plane had traversed Asia, and in July 2015, it completed the longest leg of its journey, from Japan to Hawaii. During that leg, the aircraft's batteries sustained thermal damage that took months to repair. Solar Impulse 2 resumed the circumnavigation in April 2016, when it flew to California. It continued across the US until it reached New York City in June 2016. Later that month, the aircraft crossed the Atlantic Ocean to Spain. It stopped in Egypt before returning to Abu Dhabi on 26 July 2016, more than 16 months after it had left, completing the approximately 42,000-kilometre (26,000-mile) first circumnavigation of the Earth by a piloted fixed-wing aircraft using only solar power.Spherical Earth
The earliest reliably documented mention of the spherical Earth concept dates from around the 6th century BC when it appeared in ancient Greek philosophy, but remained a matter of speculation until the 3rd century BC, when Hellenistic astronomy established the spherical shape of the Earth as a physical given and calculated Earth's circumference. The paradigm was gradually adopted throughout the Old World during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. A practical demonstration of Earth's sphericity was achieved by Ferdinand Magellan and Juan Sebastián Elcano's expedition's circumnavigation (1519–1522).The concept of a spherical Earth displaced earlier beliefs in a flat Earth: In early Mesopotamian mythology, the world was portrayed as a flat disk floating in the ocean with a hemispherical sky-dome above, and this forms the premise for early world maps like those of Anaximander and Hecataeus of Miletus. Other speculations on the shape of Earth include a seven-layered ziggurat or cosmic mountain, alluded to in the Avesta and ancient Persian writings (see seven climes).
The realization that the figure of the Earth is more accurately described as an ellipsoid dates to the 17th century, as described by Isaac Newton in Principia. In the early 19th century, the flattening of the earth ellipsoid was determined to be of the order of 1/300 (Delambre, Everest). The modern value as determined by the US DoD World Geodetic System since the 1960s is close to 1/298.25.Timeline of the Magellan–Elcano circumnavigation
The Magellan–Elcano circumnavigation was the first voyage around the world in human history. It was a Spanish expedition that sailed from Seville in 1519 under the command of Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese, in search of a maritime path from Spain to East Asia through the Americas and across the Pacific Ocean, and concluded by Spanish navigator Juan Sebastian Elcano in 1522. Elcano and the 18 survivors of the expedition were the first men to circumnavigate the globe in a single expedition.
The Spanish fleet, the Armada de Molucca, that left Spain on 20 September 1519 consisted of five ships with 270 men: Trinidad under Magellan, Captain General; San Antonio under Juan de Cartagena; Concepcion under Gaspar de Quesada; Santiago under João Serrão; and Victoria under Luiz Mendoza.
After crossing the Atlantic and wintering in South America the expedition navigated the Straits of Magellan, then crossed the Pacific to the Philippines.
Following Magellan's death in Mactan (Philippines) in 1521, Juan Sebastián Elcano took command of the ship Victoria, sailing back to Spain across the Indian Ocean, round the Cape of Good Hope and north along the west coast of Africa.
The circumnavigation was completed by Elcano and a crew of 18 men in Victoria, returning to Spain nearly three years after they left on 6 September 1522.USS Triton (SSRN-586)
USS Triton (SSRN/SSN-586) was a United States Navy radar picket nuclear submarine. In early 1960, it became the first vessel to execute a submerged circumnavigation of the Earth in Operation Sandblast. Triton accomplished this objective during her shakedown cruise while under the command of Captain Edward L. "Ned" Beach, Jr. She was the only member of her class and had the distinction of being the only Western submarine powered by two nuclear reactors.
Triton was the second submarine and the fifth ship of the United States Navy to be named for the Greek god Triton. At the time of her commissioning in 1959, Triton was the largest, most powerful, and most expensive submarine ever built at $109 million excluding the cost of nuclear fuel and reactors ($937 million today).Triton's mission as a radar picket submarine was made obsolete after two years by the introduction of the carrier-based Grumman WF-2 Tracer airborne early warning aircraft. She was converted to an attack submarine in 1962 and became the flagship for the Commander, Submarine Forces, U.S. Atlantic Fleet (COMSUBLANT) in 1964. She was decommissioned in 1969, the first U.S. nuclear submarine to be taken out of service.
Triton's hull was moored at the St. Julien's Creek Annex of Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia as part of the reserve fleet until 1993, though she was struck from the Naval Vessel Register in 1986. In 1993, she was towed to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard to await the Nuclear Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program. The former Triton landed on the keel resting blocks in the drydock basin on 1 October 2007 to begin this recycling process, which was completed effective 30 November 2009. Triton's sail superstructure was saved from the recycling process and is now part of the USS Triton Submarine Memorial Park located on Port of Benton Boulevard in Richland, Washington.Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer
The Scaled Composites Model 311 Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer (registered N277SF) is an aircraft designed by Burt Rutan in which Steve Fossett flew a solo nonstop airplane flight around the world in a little less than 77 hours (3 days 5 hours). The flight speed of 551 km/h set the world record for the fastest nonstop non-refueled circumnavigation, beating the mark set by the previous Rutan-designed Voyager aircraft at 9 days 3 minutes and a top speed of 196 km/h.
The aircraft was owned by the pilot Steve Fossett, sponsored by Richard Branson's airline, Virgin Atlantic, and built by Burt Rutan's company, Scaled Composites. The two companies subsequently went on to work together on Virgin Galactic.
Between February 8, 2006 and February 11, 2006, Fossett flew the GlobalFlyer for the longest aircraft flight distance in history: 25,766 miles (41,466 km).