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China to start Antarctica probe in late October
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China announced on Thursday that a 28-strong team would probe into Antarctica in late October and complete the first phase construction of a research station.

The team of scientists, construction engineers and two journalists are expected to build the research station next year at Dome A, the continent's highest peak at 4,093 meters above sea level, said Sun Zhihui, director of the State Oceanic Administration.

The move would mark a giant leap for Chinese scientists as it would expand their research area from the coastal area to the inland of Antarctica, he said.

The research station would occupy 560 square meters and consist of four sections including two for scientific research and the rest for accommodation and logistics.

The first phase of the construction, which is the main structure of the station and scheduled to be finished in January next year, would feature the accommodation quarters and a scientific research section. It occupies 236 square meters.

The structure is made of high-tech stainless steel and could help scientists avoid fire and low temperature.

The deadline to complete the rest was still pending, sources with the expedition team said.

Li Yuansheng from the China Polar Research Center will head the team. He made a historic trip by leading the Chinese researchers to scale Dome A for the first time in January 2005.

The new research station will be China's third station in Antarctica after the Changcheng Station and Zhongshan Station.

The country's 24th expedition to the region, which lasted 156 days and was finished in April this year, was tasked with choosing a site for the third Antarctic research station. During the trip, the scientists successfully scaled Dome A for the second time in history on Jan. 12.

China launched its first expedition to Antarctica in 1984.

(Xinhua News Agency September 12, 2008)

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