The Shirase, a Japanese icebreaker, has reached Showa Station, the nation’s Antarctic research facility.

Around 2:50 p.m. Sunday, the ship carrying members of Japan’s 61st research expedition team and goods to be used in their activities arrived at a point where the team could pipe fuel from the ship to the station.

The vessel reached the Antarctic’s fast-ice area, that lies between the coast and the sea ice, on Dec. 29 last year. The ship then rammed through the ice to berth at its current location.

Work to transport fuel, food and other items from the ship to the station will begin in full shortly.

Most of the expedition team have already arrived at the base by helicopter.

Takara Teramura, a 42-year-old member of the team responsible for transmitting information, took pictures of the Shirase from the coast near Showa Station, saying, “I never thought the ship could come this close.”

The 61st team will stay at the station for a shorter period of time than prior teams as it is on a mission to observe the Totten Glacier in East Antarctica. The glacier is feared to be melting due to climate change.

After about a month of activities at Showa Station, the Shirase will leave for Japan in early February. It is scheduled to arrive back home in late March.

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