One of the more remarkable achievements of the Steampunk Era, the Gryphon Interplanetary Aeroship Expedition was financed by the wealthy eccentric Baron Henry Balzerhaught of Upper Bavaria. The Expedition’s goal was to explore all of the planets of the solar system through direct visitation, made possible through the unique engineering and design of the aeroship itself, based on the discoveries and inventions of Professor H. Tauruscat.
Baron Balzerhaught called his craft an “aeroship”—which was capable of withstanding both pressure and temperature extremes—to distinguish it from the mundane airships that were limited to traversing planet earth.
Whether or not the Expedition actually succeeded in its ambitious goal is unknown. I have been unable to find any daguerreotypical evidence or even schematical plans of the aeroship itself, The Gryphon. All that is known of what it looked like—and even that is questionable— is based on a single sighting by an elderly Chinese cook on a whaling vessel, and his subsequent recording of it as a scrimshawed whale tooth.
The engraving depicts the Gryphon being savagely attacked by a giant squid, and thus some scholars believe that the aeroship met her demise at sea, and never left the earth’s gravitational field. Others feel that while it is probable it did go to other planets, it never returned to earth and its fate will forever be a mystery.
What we do know about the expedition consists entirely of miscellaneous remnants: Several pages from the Baron’s journal, along with sundry equipment that was apparently designed specifically for the trip, including the pilot’s helmet, the firemaster’s helmet, and a couple of “bad air transmutators” which allowed members of the expedition to breathe alien atmosphere.