China becomes first country to set foot on highest ice cap on Antarctic

April 11th, 2009 - 1:36 pm ICT by ANI  

New Delhi, Apr 11 (ANI): China has established its first inland Antarctic research station on the highest plateau of the South Pole and became first country to set foot on Dome A, the highest ice cap on the Antarctic at an altitude of 4093 meters.

Chinese scientists, who returned from their 25th expedition to the South Pole on Friday morning, said building the ‘Kunlun’ research station on Dome A was the “most challenging mission”.

“No scientist, from any country, has set foot on Dome A except us. We managed to complete the main building housing a 20-bed dormitory with shower, kitchen and dining facilities, and offices, within 50 days,” the China Daily quoted said Li Yuansheng, the head of the newly established research station, as saying.

China’s expedition ship Xue Long (Snow Dragon) returned to Shanghai on April 8, bringing home 204 members of the scientific team. The expedition began on October 20 last year.

“This is the longest and most accomplished expedition we have undertaken to the South Pole. The low air pressure and temperature made most of us ill,” said Sun Zhihui, director of the State Oceanic Administration of China.

The Kunlun station can now host 20-25 scientists who would be able to spend the summer doing research work. When the second phase is completed in the next five years, it will be good enough to stay during the winter, as the life-sustaining facilities would be installed, Li pointed out.

Kunlun is China’s first inland station and will allow its scientists to conduct research on astronomy, geology and global climate change, which is an important component of the International Polar Year program.

The expedition team also refurbished China’s other two research stations on the South Pole, Changcheng (Great Wall) and Zhongshan. (ANI)

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