Recently, Nature looked forward to the 2020 scientific progress worth looking forward to, space, climate, health and so on is still the focus of research in 2020. Among them, China’s Mars exploration and the Chang’e-5 mission has attracted much attention.
NASA’s Mars 2020 mission will use a detachable unmanned helicopter. Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
In 2020, several spacecraft, including three landers, will make their way to Mars. NASA plans to send the next-generation Mars 2020 to the red planet, collecting rock samples and sending them back to Earth on future missions, and will be equipped with a small, detachable unmanned helicopter. China also plans to launch its first Mars mission in 2020: the first lander to Mars, which will deploy a small rover. If the parachute technical problem is resolved, the Russian spacecraft will also send the European Space Agency’s (ESA) rover to Mars. The United Arab Emirates will launch a man-made satellite, the first time an Arab country has carried out a mission to Mars.
In addition to mars exploration, China will carry out the Chang’e-5 mission in 2020 to achieve the return of unmanned lunar samples; Japan’s asteroid probe Osprey 2 is scheduled to return collected asteroid samples to Earth in 2020; and the U.S. “Ossieis-REx” probe will also carry out sampling operations on the asteroid Benu.
Big Sky Big Data
This year’s black hole photo debut is undoubtedly hot, and the Event Horizon project, which took this image, is expected to release new results in 2020, this time possibly about a black hole at the center of the Milky Way. ESA’s Gaia probe will update the Milky Way’s three-dimensional map, allowing scientists to better understand the structure and evolution of the Milky Way. Gravitational wave astronomers will unveil the “treasure” of cosmic collisions they’ve observed in 2019, which have caused ripples in the air. This includes the merger of many black holes, as well as the collision of previously unseen black holes with stars.
Super Collide Dreams
CERN wants more funding to boost a new generation of large-scale colliders. The European Particle Physics Laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, will hold a special meeting in Budapest, Hungary, in May, where a committee will decide on parts of the laboratory’s European Particle Physics Strategy Update. The lab hopes to build a 100-kilometer-long machine that will be six times as powerful as the Large Hadron Collider, at a cost of 21 billion euros.
In the U.S., the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago, Illinois, should announce the long-awaited results of the meson g-2. Physicists hope that tiny anomalies will reveal previously unknown elementary particles.
The work of synthetic biologists to reconstruct bread yeast (brewing yeast) will be completed in 2020. Researchers have been able to completely replace the genetic code of simple organisms, such as the fernion, but doing this in yeast cells is more challenging because they are complex. The study, called Synthetic Yeast 2.0, was carried out in collaboration with 15 laboratories from four continents. The team has replaced 16 chromosomes of brewing yeast with synthetic DNA fragments.
They also tried to recombine and edit the yeast’s genome to understand how organisms evolved and how they responded to mutations. The researchers hope that engineering yeast cells will provide a more effective and flexible way to make a wide range of products, from biofuels to drugs.
In August, the United Nations Environment Programme will issue a major report on geoengineering. Geoengineering refers to the large-scale transformation of the Earth’s environment, which is considered a potential way to combat climate change.
Also in 2020, the International Seabed Authority will issue long-awaited regulations to make seabed mining possible. But scientists worry that little is known about how such practices can damage marine ecosystems and the potentially catastrophic effects of an already stressed environment.
At next year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, UK, countries need to continue to push for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Under the 2015 agreement, countries must propose the latest greenhouse gas reduction targets to help limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. But most countries have been slow to deliver on their commitments. Moreover, the future of the treaty itself is uncertain, and the United States is expected to formally withdraw.
The arrival of the “human rat”
The dream of human-bred alternative organs in other animals is expected to come true as researchers make progress on this ethically charged technology. Hiromitsu Nakauchi, a stem cell scientist at the University of Tokyo in Japan, plans to grow human cell tissue in mouse and rat embryos. He will then transplant the hybrid embryos into alternative animals (a step that won’t be allowed until a new Japanese law takes effect in March). Nakauchi and his collaborators did similar experiments with pig embryos. The ultimate goal of such studies is to produce organs that can be transplanted into the human body. But some researchers believe it is safer and more effective to grow organics in the lab.
In addition, events that could have a significant impact on the scientific community in 2020 include the U.S. election, the testing of a new technology for infectious diseases such as dengue fever, and the start of clinical trials of a malaria vaccine.