SHANGHAI -- China launched its 33rd Antarctic expedition when research vessel and icebreaker Xuelong (Snow Dragon) left a Shanghai dock Wednesday morning.
A 256-member team has embarked on their 161-day trip of 31,000 nautical miles, according to Sun Bo, deputy director of the Polar Research Institute of China, who leads the team.
They will visit the Zhongshan, Kunlun, Taishan and Changcheng stations, performing various research tasks. The team will also carry out environmental clean-up around the stations.
The team is scheduled to return to Shanghai on April 11 next year.
The expedition has a list of 72 tasks to perform including preliminary site selection for China's new base on the Ross Sea and work on fixed-wing aircraft.
Xuelong will arrive at the Zhongshan station in eastern Antarctica in early December. After unloading at Zhongshan, Kunlun, and Taishan stations, the ship heads to Chile to resupply.
In late January it will survey the Ross Sea, returning to the Zhongshan station late February before departing home early March.