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China to Launch 21st Antarctic Expedition
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China will launch its 21st Antarctic expedition on October 25 this year, targeting a polar icecap peak 4,300 meters above sea level, said Wei Wenliang, an official for polar expedition affairs with the National Bureau of Oceanography, at a press conference.

A team of 12 scientists and journalists will participate in the 150-day expedition, the first time for Chinese people to travel the 1,300 kilometers to this part of the Antarctic interior.

China will also invest more than 200 million yuan (about US$24 million) to rebuild the Xuelong polar expedition ship, which will participate in the expedition, according to officials from the National Bureau of Oceanography.

When its refitting is complete, the Xuelong will have an increased laboratory area of 300 square meters and its research capabilities, automated safety features and living conditions will all be improved.

Since China inaugurated its first Antarctic research station, Great Wall, on February 10, 1985, the country has conducted an Antarctic expedition every year.

Substantial progress has been made in research on the polar climate and weather, glaciers, bio-resources, oceanic chemistry and physics, especially in the field of polar aerolite, where China's research level ranks with the United States and Japan.

(Xinhua News Agency September 9, 2004)

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