Jonathan O'Callaghan

IFLScience (Senior Staff Writer) | BBC Earth | WIRED | MailOnline | All About Space | All About History | How It Works

Science and technology journalist, specialising in space. Below is a small selection of my work over the last few years.

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These Are The Most Exciting Space Missions To Look Forward To In 2018

Hooray! We made it into 2018. And with another year comes another host of exciting space missions to look forward to, from long-awaited launches to deep space rendezvous. Last year saw a number of fascinating developments in space. India launched a record-breaking 104 satellites on a single rocket, for example, while the Cassini mission came to an end and SpaceX wowed us all with repeated rocket landings. This year should be even more thrilling though, and things get started almost immediately
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Scientists Think They've Finally Worked Out What Caused The Mass Death Of Saiga Antelopes Three Years Ago

Back in 2015, more than 200,000 saiga antelopes mysteriously died in Kazakhstan over a three week period, wiping out 60 percent of the global population. Now, more than two years later, scientists think they finally know why. In a paper published in Science Advances, an international team of researchers suggests that a disease called hemorrhagic septicemia is likely to have caused the mass mortality event (MME), triggered by conditions that can be associated with climate change. More than ever,
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An Adorable New Species Of Dwarf Lemur Has Just Been Discovered

We just want to smoosh its little face! E.E. Louis, Jr Break out the “awws”, because an adorable new species of lemur has just been discovered in Madagascar. Just look at its little face! This delightful little animal will join more than 100 known species of lemur. Called Grove’s dwarf lemur, or Cheirogaleus grovesi, it was found in two of Madagascar’s national parks – Ranomafana and Andringitra. A study describing the animal is published in Primate Conservation. It is specifically known as a
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This Terrifying Robotic Crawling Baby Actually Has A Scientific Purpose

Heads up people, we’ve got a creepy robot baby alert. And this is not just your standard creepy baby. Oh no. It’s born out of your deepest, darkest nightmares. Scientists from Purdue University in Indiana created this abomination, no doubt to strike fear into their worst enemies. But this spawn of Satan apparently has a scientific purpose, too. Yes, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, the researchers showed how this crawling baby highlights the amount of “bio-gunk” t
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NASA Says The Global Effort To Repair The Ozone Hole Is Working

In 1987, the nations of the world came together to save the planet in part by banning chemicals known as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Now, three decades later, a NASA satellite has confirmed those measures were successful. That pact in 1987 was the Montreal Protocol. It came about as a response to the discovery two years prior in 1985 of a hole in the ozone over the Antarctic. The result of this treaty was to phase out the use of CFCs, seen in things like aerosols and refrigerants. A new study
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NASA Will Return To Titan Or Comet 67P In The 2020s, But Other Exciting Destinations Miss Out

NASA has selected two possible new missions to launch in the 2020s, one to a comet and one to Titan. The selection, however, has highlighted how many exciting destinations there are to go to in the Solar System, and how little money there is available to do them all. The two finalists, announced yesterday and selected from a list of 12 possible missions, are part of NASA’s New Frontiers programme. After further development of the concepts in 2018, one of the missions will be selected in the spr
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This Is Why You Should Never, Ever Stare Directly At A Solar Eclipse

Don’t look at the Sun. Like, really. In any circumstance. Even when it looks like the Moon is blocking it during an eclipse, because it can still do significant damage as new images dramatically reveal. Published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology, these pictures show what happened to a woman in her 20s who viewed this year’s total solar eclipse in the US without glasses. The results aren’t great. “During the solar eclipse of August 21, 2017, a woman in her 20s viewed the solar rim several time
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Last-Ditch Attempt To Save World's Most Critically Endangered Porpoise Fails

Scientists have abandoned their attempts to save the world’s last vaquita porpoises, in a heartbreaking moment for animal conservation. VaquitaCPR, a $5 million initiative by the Mexican government and conservationist to save the vaquita, will announce the end of the project today. This is following the death of a female vaquita on November 5, which we reported yesterday. Less than 30 of the animals are thought to still exist in the world, having numbered 567 in 1997, pushed towards extinction
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Supersonic Car Tests Its Jet Engine Ahead Of 1,000mph World Land Speed Record Attempt

A supersonic car that will attempt to break the 1,600 kilometers per hour (1,000 miles per hour) limit has had a successful test run of its powerful jet engine. Called Bloodhound SSC (Supersonic Car), the vehicle is being developed by a team from Oxford in the UK. It has been in development for years, a bold attempt to break the world land speed record. The team is now preparing to perform a test run of the vehicle in Newquay, UK on October 26, when the car will travel at up to 320 km/h (200 m
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These New Earbuds From Google Can Translate 40 Languages In Real-Time

Imagine a world where you could speak or understand any language without needing to learn it. That’s a future Google has promised with its new Pixel Buds. They were revealed yesterday at an event in San Francisco, where Google also unveiled its new Pixel 2 phone, an update to the Google Home device, and more. The Pixel Buds, though, really grabbed our attention. For anyone that’s read The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, they’ll obviously immediately elicit thoughts of the Babel Fish, which w
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Cassini Sends Its Final Signal To Earth As It Plunges Into Saturn

Well, here we are. After 293 orbits of Saturn and more than 3,000 scientific papers, Cassini has finally sent its somber farewell. But it will leave behind it a vast and incredible legacy of discovery that shook our understanding of our place in the universe. At 7.55am EDT (12.55pm BST), Cassini sent its final transmission to Earth. While we'll never know for sure what happened next, it's predicted that the spacecraft then broke apart about a minute later as it traveled into the atmosphere of S
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Why Is The Sun Freaking Out Right Now?

Seven days. Seven flares. Is the end of times upon us? A week ago, the Sun unleashed its biggest solar flare in more than a decade, a monster X9.3 storm that knocked out radio communications on Earth. This was the second of the week, but the Sun was just getting started. Over the next few days, flare after flare erupted from the Sun, all from the same region – AR 2673. Yesterday’s X8.2 flare was the most recent, causing the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) to issue its latest in a string
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Russian Scientists Just Launched An 'Artificial Star' That Could Threaten Astronomy

A Russian Soyuz rocket has successfully launched a controversial satellite into orbit, which will become one of our brightest stars in a few days – and may hamper astronomical observations. The satellite is called Mayak, developed by Moscow State Mechanical Engineering University (MAMU) and funded with $30,000 through Russian crowdfunding website Boomstarter. We first learned about it back in early 2016, and on Friday, July 14, it launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan along with 72 ot
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Trump Finally Announces His Nomination For New NASA Chief

We've had to wait a long time, but the Trump Administration has finally made its pick for the next person to lead NASA. In a statement yesterday, it was revealed that Republican Congressman Jim Bridenstine, the Representative for Oklahoma, would be Trump's nomination for NASA Administrator. Bridenstine will need to be approved by the Senate before he can fill the position. A Deputy Administrator has not yet been named, but various outlets had suggested it would be John Schumacher from Aerojet
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Meet The Man Who's Going To Live In A Capsule On An Iceberg For A Year

Alex Bellini is not like you and me. He’s rowed across the Atlantic Ocean, run across the US, and skied across a glacier. Now he's planning his most exciting adventure yet – living on an iceberg for a year. His project is called Adrift, and it’s pretty ambitious. Bellini is a 38-year-old public speaker from Italy who now lives in Oxford, UK, with his wife and two daughters. He wants to drop a specially designed survival capsule onto an iceberg in Greenland and live inside it for up to 12 months
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