ABOARD XUELONG, July 18 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese expedition team entered the Arctic Circle Wednesday, beginning a three-month scientific exploration of the Arctic Ocean.
After a voyage of 3,515 nautical miles (6,510 km), scientists aboard the icebreaker Xuelong, or "Snow Dragon," crossed the Arctic Circle on the fifth mission of China's Arctic program, which began in July 1999.
The 90-day voyage is aimed at conducting comprehensive research at 33 oceanic observation stations in the Pacific Arctic and Atlantic Arctic regions.
The expedition team left the eastern Chinese port of Qingdao on July 2.
So far, it has completed surveys at 27 stations, covering oceanic physics, chemistry, biology, geology, optics and atmosphere, gathering samples and observation data in the Bering Sea and Bering Strait regions.
The Xuelong, an A-2 class icebreaker capable of breaking ice 1.2 meters thick, will travel 17,000 nautical miles (27,000 km) before returning to Shanghai on Sept. 29.