Chinese research vessel and icebreaker Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, left Shanghai on Tuesday for Guangzhou, where the vessel will set sail for the country's 29th scientific expedition to Antarctica.
The team for the current mission is composed of 239 members, including 13 females, the oldest being 64, and the youngest 21, said Qu Tanzhou, the captain of Xuelong, adding that 144 had already boarded the vessel, and the rest will board in Guangzhou and Australia.
Chen Lianzeng, Vice Director of the State Oceanic Administration, said the expedition team will work on 39 scientific research assignments and bring supplies to China's Antarctic stations, while a team will be sent to Kunlun Station for scientific research and station construction.
The siting of a new station will also be an important task in the current mission.
Xuelong is scheduled to arrive in Guangzhou on November 2 and set off for Antarctica from there on November 5.
The expedition will last for 162 days, covering 27,460 nautical miles over its entire course. The team is expected to return home in early April, 2013.
China launched its first expedition to the Antarctic in 1984 and has established three stations there, including Changcheng Station, Zhongshan Station and Kunlun Station.
(Xinhua News Agency October 30, 2012)