Auguste Piccard was a Swiss-born explorer who investigated both the
stratosphere and the depths of the ocean. Born in Basel, Switzerland, and
educated at the Federal Polytechnic School, he became a professor of
physics at the University of Brussels in 1922. On May 27, 1931, with his
associate Paul Kipfer, he made the first manned balloon flight into the
stratosphere, lifting off from Augsberg, Germany. They set a new altitude
record of 51,961 feet (15,838 meters). For this flight, he designed the
first pressurized cabin, which was made of aluminium. During the flight,
Piccard gathered valuable information regarding the intensity of cosmic
rays in the stratosphere and also recorded a wide range of stratospheric
temperatures. In 1932, Piccard and Max Cosyns climbed to an altitude of
53,139 feet (16,197 meters). Piccard made a total of twenty-seven flights
before he turned to exploring the ocean bottom.
(1884-1962), drawn by Robert Kastor, 1932.
In 1947, Piccard built his first bathyscaphe, a vehicle
used for deep-sea descents. It floated in water as a balloon floated in
air and used ballast to manoeuvre with two propellers. In 1953, he launched
his second bathyscaphe, the Trieste, which reached a depth of
10,300 feet (3,150 meters). In 1960, his son Jacques set a world depth
record by descending to about 35,810 feet (10,915 meters).