Icebreaker's voyage raises bar for polar exploration

By Zhao Lei | China Daily | Updated: 2019-10-22 07:47
Xuelong works in Arctic waters last year. [Photo/Xinhua]

Antarctic mission aimed at boosting research projects

China's second-and first domestically built-research icebreaker, Xuelong 2, has embarked on its maiden polar voyage and will join its predecessor Xuelong in taking the nation's exploration endeavors to new heights.

Xuelong 2, or Snow Dragon 2, set sail on Oct 15 from Shenzhen, Guangdong province. The voyage is a major part of China's 36th Antarctic expedition, which involves 413 scientists, researchers and support staff.

The vessel will make stops at two Chinese Antarctic research stations-Zhongshan and Changcheng-with members of the expedition team conducting scientific operations, according to Qin Weijia, director of the Ministry of Natural Resources' polar expedition office.

It will also make a port call in South Africa to enable Chinese researchers to carry out scientific cooperation projects with their local counterparts, Qin told reporters at a news conference in Shenzhen last week.

Xuelong, the vessel's partner, was scheduled to set sail from Shanghai on Tuesday to join Xuelong 2 at the Zhongshan research station for joint survey operations. The two icebreakers will then part company and perform their tasks independently.

Qin said Xuelong 2 will return to China in late March, while Xuelong will do so in mid-April.

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