SEOUL, Sept. 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's icebreaker is on its way to the southern port of Busan after completing a 70-day international exploration mission in the Arctic Ocean, the oceans ministry said Thursday.
The Araon, South Korea's first ice breaking vessel, started its eighth mission to the North Pole on July 21 and will return to Busan on Friday, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said.
The 7,487-ton research ship explored the North Pole region on two missions as part of global efforts to examine the cause of global warming and study the Arctic ecosystem.
For the first exploration from Aug. 6-25, 52 researchers from 11 nations, including the United States, Japan and Russia, sailed a route of 4,500 kilometers through the Bering Sea, Chukchi Sea and the East Siberian Sea to check changes in icebergs and the general ecosystem.
The second exploration team composed of 48 researchers from five nations, including the U.S., China, Germany and Canada, conducted research inside of Canada's exclusive economic zone from Aug. 27-Sept. 16.
They mobilized autonomous underwater vehicles and remote operated vehicles to film and photograph the large amounts of underwater methane gas released from the Beaufort Sea, the ministry said.
After making a port call in Busan, the Araon will move to the southwestern port of Gwangyang on Saturday for repair and maintenance. It will embark on a 226-day voyage to the South Pole, departing from the western port of Incheon on Oct. 26, the ministry said.
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