Chinese research icebreaker Xue Long (Snow Dragon) with the 31st research expedition left Chinese city of Shanghai for the Antarctica on Thursday, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported.
The expedition is mainly tasked to build a basic station for Chinese navigation satellite system Beidou, head of the Chinese State Oceanic Administration Liu Cigui said, noting that the mission will produce data and ensure technical support for the navigation system, for exploration and making of maps for some Antarctic regions.
The expedition will be also tasked to choose a site for a runway near Chinese Antarctic research station Zhongshan. Chiefs of Chinese Antarctic research programme take construction of an airfield as an important measure to build up the staff of researchers, improve their material supplies and to give a more effective response in case of emergencies.
The expedition comprises 281 researchers from mainland China, Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey. Scientists will explore an ecological system of the continent, study the local terrain and will make maps, study changes in the condition of ice and snow cover and will conduct geomagnetic research at research stations Changcheng, Zhongshan and Kunlun. Specialists will carry out hydrological, meteorological, biological and geological research in the sea.
China has been undertaking research activity in the Antarctica since 1984. During their latest expedition that ended in April Chinese Antarctic explorers have opened fourth Chinese research station Taishan situated between stations Zhongshan and Kunlun at an altitude of 2.6 kilometres above the sea level. Researchers have also determined a site to build a fifth Chinese Antarctic station.