China has set up a third Antarctic research station, its first in the frozen continent’s interior and a step the industrial giant describes as marking a significant step in polar exploration.
The Xinhua news agency says the Kunlun station was erected at Dome Argus, the pole’s highest icecap at 4093 meters above the sea level by the country’s 25th expedition to the South Pole.
Xinhua adds Chinese President Hu Jintao has sent a congratulatory telegram to the team, saying that the construction of the station will help China further improve scientific research on the continent.
“It is another great contribution by our country to the human being to unveil the Antarctic mystery,” said Hu, also general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.
The Kunlun station is designed to cover an area of 558.56 square meters. Its main construction, covering 236 square meters, will be completed by April, when the expedition team is expected to return to the coast and home.
The station will be used to study glaciology, astronomy, topology, geophysics, atmospheric science and space physics in the Antarctic inland.
It will also be used to explore deep glacier ice core and mountains under the Antarctic ice, and carry out astronomical and terrestrial magnetic observation. Another mission will be collecting research data from satellites.
Other studies will include the effects of extreme weather on human psychology and physiology, and medical supplies, equipment and pharmaceuticals.
Chinese researchers made their first trip to Dome Argus in January 2005. In January last year a team made preparations there for the construction of the Kunlun station.
China two other research stations in Antarctica is the Changcheng (Great Wall) Station, founded in February 1985 south of King George Island on the Antarctic Peninsula in north-western Antarctica and the Zhongshan Station, built in February 1989 south of Prydz Bay on the Mirror Peninsula, east of Larsemann Hills in eastern Antarctica.
The United States, Russia, Japan, France, Italy and Germany have already built inland research stations in Antarctica. The main US base, Amundsen-Scott, is at the geographic South Pole. South Africa and several other countries also have bases there, but at the coast. The SA base is on the Antarctic northern coast, facing Africa.