The Maritime Self-Defense Force’s icebreaker Shirase left Harumi pier in Tokyo on Saturday bound for Antarctica. It is transporting freight for Japan’s 60th Antarctic expedition team.
With most members of the team getting on board in Australia on Nov. 26, the Shirase is expected to reach waters near Japan’s Showa Station on Antarctica in late December. It is scheduled to return home on April 9.
The 100-strong expedition ream, led by Masaki Tsutsumi, a professor of the National Institute of Polar Research, is one of the largest ever, including 71 expedition members, as well as researchers and engineers.
Aiming to sample ice older than 800,000 years, the 60th team will search for a drilling point in the ice sheet in inland Antarctica.
It will also carry out atmospheric and aurora observation, and research on fish under the sea ice.
The deputy leader of the expedition team is Naomi Harada, the first women to take the post. She is the acting chief of the Research and Development Center for Global Change of the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology.