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Scientists plan 22nd South Pole expedition
By Wang Ying (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-09-01 05:56

Chinese scientists will start their annual research expedition to the South Pole in late November this year, the 22nd of its kind.

After scaling Dome A - the highest ice cap in Antarctica - late last year, Chinese scientists will focus on inland research in the Antarctic area this time, said Yang Huigen, deputy director of the Shanghai-based Polar Research Institute of China, the scientist leading the expedition.

The expedition will mainly focus on three research fields including polar area upper atmospheric physics, aerolithology and oceanography, Yang told China Daily yesterday.

One of the major missions on this expedition is the Mount Groves Project, which focuses on collecting and researching aeroliths in Mount Groves area, 460 kilometres to China's Zhongshan Station on the coast. An aerolith is a meteorite made of rock.

"Mount Groves area is believed to be one of the most beautiful place in Antarctic and it is also an ideal place for aerolith research," Yang said.

"Located between Dome A and Zhongshan Station, Mount Groves area is famous for its rich aerolith resources," he said. "Chinese scientists have collected more than 4,480 pieces of aerolith in that area, including some precious ones such as aeroliths from the Mars."

The expedition is expected to start on November 20 from Shanghai, aboard the Xuelong (Snow Dragon) ship, a polar science research icebreaker. Dozens of scientists in various fields including polar glaciology, upper atmospheric physics, bioecology and physical oceanography are expected to participate in the expedition. The research ship can hold up to 128 passengers, including 40 crew members.

An oceanographics survey will also be made during the one-month journey from Shanghai to Zhongshan Station.

"The journey provides a golden opportunity for Chinese scientists to make deep-sea surveys," said Yang, who has been to the Arctic four times and to the Antarctic once.

The expedition will last for four and a half months from November to March, the summer season in the South Pole. The expedition is also part of the preparations to build the country's third permanent research station in the Antarctic area, a project included in China's 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10).

(China Daily 09/01/2005 page2)

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