China has opened its fourth Antarctic research base - Taishan station - the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) announced on Saturday.
Taishan station is located at 76 degrees 58 minutes east longitude and 73 degrees 51 minutes south latitude on the East Antarctic inland ice sheet at an altitude of 2,621 meters.
The site is between two existing Chinese stations, Zhongshan and Kunlun stations. The yearly average temperature there is about minus 36.6 degrees Celsius.
President Xi Jinping congratulated the research base in a letter, saying that scientific research in the Antarctic is important for the exploration of nature and the development of mankind.
The station was built by China's 30th Antarctic Scientific Expedition. 28 researchers completed it over 53 days.
The floor area of Taishan Station is 1,000 square meters. The main building covers 410 square meters and is assembled with modularized light metal materials. Built on stilts, it looks like a Chinese traditional lantern. It can accommodate up to 20 people during the Antarctic summer, and is projected to have a lifespan of 15 years.
Relay station between Kunlun Station and Zhongshan Station
Qu Tanzhou, head of the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration under the SOA, said that as a junction center station, Taishan station, equipped with garages, airports and oil storage facilities can be used for scientific observation, accommodation, power generation, storage, machinery maintenance, communications, and emergency shelter. Among China's four Antarctic research bases, Zhongshan and Changcheng are permanent, while Kunlun will become a permanent station. At that point Taishan will be the only summer base.
Qu explained that Zhongshan Station and Changcheng Station are remote from Kunlun Station, located at Dome-A, creating inconvenience for cargo transportation. As a junction center station, Taishan, 522 kilometers from Zhongshan and 600 kilometers from Kunlun, will play a crucial role in supporting scientific research into the Antarctic inland ice sheet. Also of importance will be further study of the changes in the Antarctic climate and its glaciers, and remote sensing of the Antarctic.