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The UNS Charles Lyell is an Earth science vessel of the United Nations Navy.


The Charles Lyell was mapping non-Asteroid Belt asteroids when the ship was re-routed to Eros along with their escort, the UNN Ravi.

Fred Johnson posited that the vessel was re-routed by the UN government to acquire a sample of the Protomolecule. Because of this he sent the Rocinante as a deterrent to ships attempting to dock with Eros.[1]

The Lyell and the Ravi never made it to Eros, as the protomolecule changed the asteroid's orbit and sent it toward Earth. They accompanied the Rocinante as they chased after the asteroid.[2]


  • In the book the Charles Lyell never reached Eros, however in the TV adaptation a humanitarian medical relief vessel named Marasmus did gain access and encountered Rocinante as they were attempting to depart.[3]


  • Charles Lyell was a British Geologist, who proposed the theory of "Uniformitarian", as in "The present is the key to the past", as illustrated in his seminal work "Principles of Geology". He proposed that the forces molding the planet today have operated continuously throughout its history. At the time of its writing, it was quite controversial because it went counter to the beliefs of time, namely that unique catastrophes or supernatural events -- such as Noah's flood -- shaped Earth's surface. According to this view, a once-tumultuous period of change had slowed to today's calmer, more leisurely pace.[4]
  • Lyell's work inspired scientists after him like Charles Darwin who extended that principle to biology. Species, like geologic features, evolved gradually or died out gradually. Like the forces Lyell talked of, the shifting and rising and falling of land, Darwin held that the forces seen today in the biologic world -- reproduction, inheritance, and competition -- gradually produced the whole diversity of life on Earth.


  1. The Expanse Novel Leviathan Wakes - Chapter 45: Holden
  2. The Expanse Novel Leviathan Wakes - Chapter 49: Holden
  3. The Expanse TV Series - Season 2, Episode 4: "Godspeed"
  4. Evolution Library - Charles Lyell: Principles of Geology

See also[]