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Icebreaker returns after successful voyage
From:Shanghai Daily  |  2019-03-13 09:29

China’s icebreaker Xuelong returned to Shanghai yesterday morning after completing its 35th Antarctic scientific research mission.

Xuelong, with 349 crew members on board, set sail from Shanghai on November 2. Over the next 131 days it sailed more than 30,800 nautical miles, nearly 57,042 kilometers, overcoming many difficulties including a collision.

On January 19 in thick fog, the vessel collided with an iceberg when it was traveling at a speed of 3 knots, about 5.6 kilometers per hour, in the Amundsen Sea in western Antarctica.

Its mast and part of its sides were damaged but luckily its engines, water tanks and other major equipment were not affected, and no one was injured. The damaged parts were soon repaired and the vessel was back to normal on January 21.

Chinese researchers installed and tested the country’s first fluorescent Doppler lidar system at Zhongshan Station. The researchers have also obtained 2.5GB of data, including 51 hours of useful particulars.

The new radar system allows researchers to carry out round-the-clock observation under clear weather conditions and obtain first-hand information such as temperature and wind field data.

The findings will lead to a better understanding of the middle and upper atmosphere in the polar area, and help researchers predict global climate change.

“Our system is the best in the South Pole,” Huang Wentao, a member of the research team and a researcher from the Polar Research Institute of China, said.

About 12 kilometers south of the Zhongshan Station, Chinese researchers have used the country’s first self-developed polar drilling equipment to bore through almost 200 meters of ice sheet and obtain samples of bedrock.

It is the first sample of underlying bedrock in the area, which will help researchers better understand what lies beneath the thick ice, and how ice sheets in the South Pole evolve.

Chinese researchers also successfully tested a self-developed underwater robot in the Ross Sea. It will help researchers understand the relation between the ocean and climate change.

The researchers also acquired 42 pieces of underwater sediment and nearly 200 kilograms of samples including soil, water, rocks, and animal and plant specimens.

They also completed phase two of construction at Taishan Station, including the installation of electricity, heating and sewage processing systems.