China to finish interior Antarctic station in 2009
BEIJING (Reuters) - China will complete a new research station in the interior of Antarctica next year, state media said on Sunday, expanding its presence on the continent.
The official Xinhua news agency cited Sun Bo, head of the Chinese Antarctic expedition team, as saying that an expedition to start in November would build the main structure of the new station situated on Dome A, the highest point on the continent at 4,093 meters above sea level.
The country's third scientific research station on the continent, it is expected to be finished by next January, Xinhua cited Sun as saying after returning from the country's 24th scientific expedition there.
"Scientists will ... search for the ice core dating from 1.2 million years ago on Dome A, and study the geological evolution under the icecap, the global climate changes and astronomy there," Sun said.
Several nations claiming a part of Antarctica have been outlining their case before the United Nations in what some experts are describing as the last big carve-up of territory in history.
Some areas of the continent are disputed by Chile, Argentina and Britain. The claims come amid growing interest in the potential for mineral exploitation at both the North and South Poles.
For now, though, all such claims are theoretical because Antarctica is protected by a 1959 treaty which prevents mineral exploitation of the continent except for scientific research.
(Reporting by Jason Subler; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)