Chinese scientists left Shanghai on Monday morning for the
country's 24th scientific expedition to Antarctica.
The red exploration ship "Xuelong", or "snow dragon", carrying
91 members of the 188-strong expedition team and 40 crew members,
left the Waigaoqiao Dock at around 10 AM.
The rest of the explorers will arrive in Antarctica by air.
"The expedition will last for more than five months and we are
expected to be back home on April 18 next year," said Shen Quan,
Captain of Xuelong.
"It's the largest scientific expedition team that China has sent
to Antarctica and the expedition will lay the foundations for
China's in-depth exploration of the Antarctic area," said Chen
Lianzeng, deputy director of the State Oceanic Administration.
The expedition team will fix the site of China's third
scientific research station at the South Pole, a planned
observatory with seven telescopes and one acoustic radar at Dome A,
the highest point on the continent at 4,093 meters above sea level,
The explorers will also conduct field research into
bio-diversity, the ice shelf, climate change, Antarctic ice algae
and krill, and environmental monitoring.
"We have made preparations to build a third station and once the
site is located, construction will start soon. The whole project is
expected to be completed by 2010," said Xu Xiaxing, a veteran of
the expedition team on his eighth trip to the continent.
Six days ago, China sent 189 construction workers from the China
Railway Construction Engineering Group to begin work on the biggest
expansion of the two permanent Antarctic stations - Changcheng
(Great Wall) and Zhongshan.
The workers will add facilities comprising a space observation
station, garage, warehouse, garbage and sewage discharge system,
boiler house, high-frequency radar room and oil tanker to the two
To protect the environment, the construction group has built
advanced sewage treatment systems and garbage burning facilities.
Non-degradable and solid waste is shipped back home for
The Xuelong ship also carries more than 2,100 tons of steel for
the Antarctic station expansion and vehicles and equipment for
The ship will stop by Chejudao in the Republic of Korea and
Frementle in Australia for logistic supplies before it arrives at
the Zhongshan Station.
China launched its first expedition to Antarctica in 1984 and,
since then, such expeditions have been conducted on an annual
According to the Polar Research Institute of China, 82 stations
have been built on Antarctica and the continent receives more than
30 scientific expedition teams every year.
(Xinhua News Agency November 12, 2007)