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Chinese explorers trek to build third Antarctic base
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21:20, December 18, 2008

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The Chinese 25th Antarctic expedition team left Zhongshan Station Thursday for the highest icecap on the South Pole to set up the country's first inland Antarctic research station.

The to-be-built Kunlun Station, also the country's third station in Antarctica after Changcheng Station and Zhongshan Station, would be located in the Dome Argus (Dome A) zone, the pole's highest icecap at 4,093 meters above sea level.

The 1,300-kilometer journey was scheduled to take 20 days, witha team of 28 members, 11 vehicles, 43 sleds and 625 tonnes of supplies.

"As the region's highest peak, Dome A is a true natural laboratory for scientific study and has a high value of scientificre search," said Yang Huigen, chief scientist with the expedition team.

"Dome A is a unique station for meteorological and climate observation, and the oldest ice core is most likely to be found here," Yang said.

Dome A was also called as the "inaccessible pole for human beings" with its thin air and a mean annual temperature of minus 60 degrees Celsius.

Li Yuansheng, the team leader, said all the 28 members had passed a series of strict assessment on physics, psychology and high plateau acclimatization, and "they will overcome chilliness and hypoxia to finish building the new station."

The station's main structure would apply a special steel construction and special colored plates, and its inside would be made up with 11 engineering modules, according to Li.

Earlier reports also said the station would be equipped with power generating, water treatment, transport and telecom facilities, and that the construction would be completed next year.

Chinese researchers made their first Dome A trip in Jan. 2005. The 24th Antarctic expedition team went there for a second time to make preparatory work for the station in Jan. 2008.

So far, six countries including the United States and Russia have built stations in the Dome A zone.

Source: Xinhua



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