Snow Dragon sets sail for South Pole
By Wang Ying (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-18 06:13
Chinese scientists will set sail today from Shanghai for the formidable,
iceberg-laden waters of the South Pole to start their 22nd annual research
More than 120 scientists and marine specialists are expected to travel to
Antarctica aboard the Xuelong (Snow Dragon), the polar science research
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, and chief scientist with the expedition.
"The journey provides a golden opportunity for Chinese scientists to make
deep-sea surveys and inland research in the South Pole," said Yang, who has been
to the Arctic four times and to the Antarctica once.
The expedition will last for more than 130 days from November to March next
year, the summer season in the South Pole.
"The expedition will mainly focus on three research fields, including the
polar area upper atmospheric physics (which looks into problems of stratospheric
ozone depletion and global climate change), aerolithology (the science of
meteorites) and oceanography," Yang told China Daily yesterday.
One of the major missions on this expedition is the Mount Groves Project,
focusing on collecting and researching meteorites in the Mount Groves area, 460
kilometres from China's Zhongshan Station on the coast, Yang said.
During this year's Antarctic trip, Yang will continue his aurora observations
and research on the polar area upper atmospheric physics.
The expedition is also part of the preparations to build the country's third
permanent research station in the Antarctic region, expected to be in the Dome A
area, to get information on the ancient climate.
China now has two research stations in the Antarctica. The first one, the
Great Wall Station, was opened in 1985 on King George Island in the South
Shetland Islands alongside the Antarctic Peninsula.
The second one, Zhongshan Station, was opened in 1989. It is situated on the
Larsemann Hills in Prydz Bay in East Antarctica.
The National Development and Reform Commission has endorsed an ambitious plan
to increase the country's polar scientific research, and the research project
has been included in China's 11th Five-Year Programme (2006-10).
(China Daily 11/18/2005 page2)