As the new year begins, it’s always useful to have a calendar of the most important events and moments that will happen in the next twelve months at hand. Last year, 2023, was exceptional in many ways, and this year 2024 promises to continue (and even) surpass some of the trends we experienced in the past year.
Hottest year in a millennium
Global warming is becoming more obvious and, what’s worse, it’s accelerating. Last 2023 was the hottest year on record and all indications are that it will continue to rise in 2024 until it is surpassed. El Niño will continue to raise sea and ocean temperatures this year, and NASA itself has already warned that it is highly likely that in 2024 we will surpass many of the records set by 2023.
Once again the cynicism of a climate summit in an oil power
The long list of UN climate change conferences will reach its twenty-ninth edition, which will take place this year in Azerbaijan, one of the largest oil producers in the world. The experiences of past COPs have been disastrous, especially the one held in 2023 in Dubai, where an international event meant to save the world ended up turning into horror. Basic climate indicators are deteriorating at an accelerating rate, greenhouse gas levels continue to rise, and after almost 30 years it seems clear that the current configuration of international climate summits will not be the right tool for getting anything done.
Space will break records again thanks to SpaceX and China
In 2023, it broke all space launch records in history. A total of 222 orbital launches have been carried out, “of which ninety-eight correspond to SpaceX and sixty-seven to China”—the two most decisive agents of the new space impulse of our time. In fact, Bill Gerstenmaier himself, vice president of flight operations at Space
If we also add consolidated agencies such as NASA, ESA, ROSCOSMOS or JAXA, and new space powers such as India or even Spain, which in 2023 carried out their first orbital launch, the result will be 2024 aiming to again beat this record. .
Heading to the Moon…or almost
Space is back in the news, and our satellite is once again featured prominently. Humans will soon return to the surface of the Moon thanks to the ARTEMIS space program. If all goes according to plan, the second phase (Artemis 2) will be launched in November 2024, which will also be first manned mission of the program. The Orion spacecraft will carry four astronauts into lunar orbit and return to Earth over an extended period of time. the most important step in space exploration in the last fifty years.
For its part, China plans to launch the long-awaited mission in August. Chang’e 6 will go to the far side of the Moonwill land and collect samples of lunar soil.
Artificial intelligence is consolidating and moving towards a new generation
The advances in artificial intelligence technology that we experienced in 2023 will again take center stage in 2024. Chat GPT and its derivatives are preparing a new generation of GPT5, which will also face new competitors, especially with the advent of GEMINIS, an artificial intelligence developed by Google in the new year, which many consider to be “the beginning of the generative artificial intelligence boom.”
Release of an army of modified mosquitoes
The prestigious journal Nature published a few weeks ago a full article on the scientific activities planned for 2024, among which one stands out that could have very important consequences for public health. It involves the release of millions of mass-modified mosquitoes, developed in Brazilian laboratories and designed to prevent the transmission of pathogenic viruses such as dengue or Zika. In the last decade, trials of this type of modified mosquito have achieved research success in different countries, and 2024 is expected to be the final push to create a “biological shield that will protect almost 100 million people.”
Telescopes, solar eclipses and more
2024 will also see the arrival of two of the most anticipated ground-based telescopes: the Vera Rubin Observatory, which is nearing completion in Cerro Pachon, Chile, and will house the largest digital camera ever produced for optical astronomy. Also in Chile, in the Atacama Desert, the Simmons Observatory plans to begin operations in the summer of 2024 with the goal of searching for gravitational waves in the cosmic microwave background.
Another one of the most anticipated moments of this year will be total solar eclipse which will take place on April 8th and will be available to watch in Mexico, the US and Canada. A few months later, in October, there will be another solar eclipse (this time a partial one) that will be visible across much of South America and which we will have the opportunity to discuss in detail later.
Let’s hope that 2024 brings great scientific advances and that global problems move closer to solutions. After all, this is a leap year and we will have one more day to work on it. Happy New Year everyone!
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