Chinese vessel sets off on Antarctic expedition

China Thursday dispatched its research vessel and icebreaker Snow Dragon on a six month Antarctic expedition to build a base for its navigational satellite system.

Beijing: China Thursday dispatched its research vessel and icebreaker Snow Dragon on a six month Antarctic expedition to build a base for its navigational satellite system.

An important task for the 31st mission which set off from Shanghai Thursday is to build a base station for the BeiDou navigation satellite system, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The base will provide data and technical support for the navigation system and for Antarctic surveys and mapping, Liu Cigui, director of the State Oceanic Administration said.

Scientists will study local ecosystems, survey the areas and map them, observe any changes in ice and snow conditions and carry out a geomagnetic survey at the Great Wall, Zhongshan and Kunlun stations.

Research in hydrology, meteorology, marine geology, marine biology and other subjects will be carried out in the Southern Ocean.

The expedition team consist of 281 members from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey.

The mission will also select a site for an airstrip for fixed-wing aircraft on the ice sheet near the Zhongshan research base.

The airfield will be a significant step forward for research, boosting staff and materials transportation and emergency response.

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