Team sets out to build China’s third Antarctic station

The ends of the Earth: a view looking north from Inexpressible Island (M Murphy /Public domain)
China’s 40th Antarctic scientific expedition embarked from Shanghai this week on a five-month mission to build China’s third permanent research station, Global Times reports.

The station will be sited on Inexpressible Island in the Ross Sea, halfway between Australia and Patagonia.

When completed in February, it will be larger than the Zhongshan and Great Wall stations China built previously.  

It will also be China’s first in the Pacific sector.

On the expedition are some 460 researchers from 80 institutions, travelling in two icebreakers, the Snow Dragon 1 and Snow Dragon 2, and the Divine Blessings cargo ship.

The two icebreakers will also conduct environmental surveys in the Prydez Bay, the Astronaut Sea in southeast Antarctic, and in Amundsen Sea in the west. The mission will cooperate with countries including the US, Britain and Russia on logistics.

The expedition’s 94-member station-construction team is made up of engineers from China Railway Construction Engineering Group.

The Japan Times comments that the station is well situated to collect signals intelligence from Australia and New Zealand and telemetry data on rockets launched from Australia’s new Arnhem Space Centre.

China rejects suggestions that its stations are used for espionage.

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