Construction of China's third Antarctic station, costing more than 255 million yuan (US$37 million), will break frozen ground in September, the height of summer in the southern hemisphere, the country's oceanic authority in Beijing said on Wednesday.
Establishment of the station, which is expected to be largely complete by the beginning of next year, will make China the first developing country to work with scientists from wealthy countries such as the United States, Australia, Germany and Japan, in conducting research and experiments on the continent.
The new station will serve as a base for further study for Chinese scientists on the southernmost continent, Li Haiqing, spokesman for the State Oceanic Administration (SOA), said.
"It marks an advance in China's Antarctic research from marginal areas to the core of the continent," he said.
The 556 sq m station, designed to be inhabited in the summer season, will house 24 scientists, Qu Tanzhou, director of Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration, said.
Specially designed steel and main construction materials will be supplied by the Shanghai Baosteel Group Corporation.
Experimental assemblings of the station's various parts have been carried out in lab-simulated Antarctic conditions, Qu said.
Apart from the container-shaped houses that are the main aspect of the station, the complex will also include a small airport, which will be finished by 2010.
"Chinese scientists based on the new station will be able to drill deep into the ice core and make astronomical observations," Qu said.
The as yet un-named new station is located in Dome A or Dome Argus, an Antarctic plateau 1200 km inland from the nearest coast.
Dome A, with average temperatures of -50 ℃, is one of the coldest places on earth. It is the highest ice feature in Antarctica, with a dome or eminence 4,093 m above sea level.
The polar authority has launched a nationwide name soliciting activity for the new station on the website www.sina.com.cn until the end of this month, Qu said.
Owing to lack of technical and logistical support to go further inland, China has already set up two stations on the marginal areas of the Antarctica: the Great Wall Station built in 1985 and Zhongshan Station built in 1989.
(China Daily July 17, 2008)