Wednesday, January 25, 2006

China Discovers the World's Ocean

A Chinese scientific research ship returned home after a 300-day round-the-world voyage. The ship, the first of its kind in China to circumnavigate the globe, brought back more than 1,000 kilograms of hydrothermal sulfide samples containing copper, zinc and precious metals such as gold and silver. She travelled 43,230 nautical miles (79,975 kilometers), first visiting the Pacific and then sailing across the Atlantic through the Panama Canal. It then travelled to the Indian Ocean, rounding the Cape of Good Hope before continuing back to the Pacific through the Straits of Malacca. Chinese scientists on board have gathered many rock samples, monitored and mapped out the ocean floor for future deep-sea mining operations and also conducted deep-sea biological research such as investigating, collecting and classifying sea life samples. First-hand data of life formations near thermal vents are also a focus of the research mission, as biological gene study in this extreme environment may help with the fight against human diseases. Marine analysts said the trip marks the first step in the efforts of Chinese scientists to expand their reach to all major oceanic areas and to transform their focus from field research of mineral and biological resources to all-purposes studies, including advanced equipment testing and professional training.

From Peoples daily.