The British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901–04, generally known as the Discovery Expedition, was the first official British exploration of the Antarctic regions since James Clark Ross's voyage sixty years earlier.
Organized on a large scale under a joint committee of the Royal Society and the Royal Geographical Society (RGS), the new expedition aimed to carry out scientific research and geographical exploration in what was then largely an untouched continent.
Its scientific results covered extensive ground in biology, zoology, geology, meteorology and magnetism. There were important geological and zoological discoveries, including those of the snow-free McMurdo Dry Valleys and the Cape Crozier Emperor Penguin colony. In the field of geographical exploration, achievements included the discoveries of King Edward VII Land, and the Polar Plateau via the western mountains route. The expedition did not make a serious attempt on the South Pole, its principal southern journey, only traveling to the Farthest South mark at a reported 82°17'S.
As a trailbreaker for later ventures, the Discovery Expedition was a landmark in British Antarctic exploration history. After its return home it was celebrated as a success, despite having needed an expensive relief mission to free Discovery and its crew from the ice, and later disputes about the quality of some of its scientific records. It has been asserted that the expedition's main failure was its inability to master the techniques of efficient polar travel using skis and dogs a legacy that persisted in British Antarctic expeditions throughout the Heroic Age.