While new pictures were being transmitted from Pluto, a rock star rubbed shoulders with his heroes.
As historic data from Pluto came in from NASA’s New Horizons probe earlier this month, the team got help in analyzing the data from a new scientific collaborator, Brian May, guitarist from the rock group ‘Queen’.
He is best known for the guitar riffs in songs like “We Will Rock You”, “Fat Bottomed Girls” and “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Yet May is more than just a famous rock star; he is also an astrophysicist. In the month of May 1974, he enrolled in a PhD program at Imperial College in London. He studied light that reflected off of dust inside the solar system. But at the same time, he was in a band called Queen, which was turning into an international sensation. He put his studies on hold, but he was able to complete his thesis in 2007, 36 years after he became a star.
When New Horizons passed by the planet Pluto, May stood with the NASA team to help interpret and sort out the new data as it was being transmitted.
May wrote in his blog post that the Gods of the Underworld must have been with him, because he was there when the first picture was downloaded from the probe.
Besides sifting through images and information that was gathered by New Horizons, May observed the first stereo image of Pluto. A single lens camera produces images that seem like you covered up one of your eyes, but a stereo picture can appear to be three dimensional with the aid of a stereoscope. May also wrote on his blog that he had been a long time fan of making stereo images, and had been excited for the opportunity to work with the new photographs of Pluto as they came to Earth.
He continued to write that, of course, the New Horizon guys were already performing some serious science on the images as they arrive. Yet, he was able to assemble the two images to create the most satisfying stereo view that he can ever remember making.
Even rock stars get fan-struck when they get the chance to meet their heroes. Not many people know about May’s love of science, but along with being in the outstanding band of Queen, the guitarist is able to live through science.