The Royal Society stated the voyage’s scientific goals as:
To investigate the physical conditions of the deep sea in the great ocean basins (as far as the neighbourhood of the Great Southern Ice Barrier) in regard to depth, temperature, circulation, specific :gravity and penetration of light.
To determine the chemical composition of seawater at various depths from the surface to the bottom, the organic matter in solution and the particles in suspension.
To ascertain the physical and chemical character of deep-sea deposits and the sources of these deposits.
To investigate the distribution of organic life at different depths and on the deep seafloor.