Brian May, renowned globally as the legendary guitarist of the rock band Queen, recently showcased his expertise in an entirely different realm – astrophysics.
Holding a doctorate in the subject, May lent his expertise with a stereoscopic photo technique to aid NASA’s historic mission of collecting its first-ever asteroid sample.
NASA’s van-sized scientific vehicle, called OSIRIS-REx, launched in September 2016 and traveled to the asteroid Bennu, 120 million miles away from Earth.
May was brought into the project by Dante Lauretta the leader of the OSIRIS-REx sample team when the team was having a hard time finding a safe landing spot on the huge asteroid.
May and Lauretta worked closely together mapping the surface using 3D photos that ultimately allowed the OSIRIS-REx to land and retrieve a sample of the asteroid that is believed to date back to the origins of the solar system.
May has been a lifelong fan of space exploration and began his Ph.D. program at Imperial College in London back in 1970.
But May and Queen bandmates Freddie Mercury, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon were just heating up in the world of music causing May to pause the pursuit of his Ph.D. for a rock career.
He assumed the hiatus would only last a few years, but instead, the band made rock history as one of the best-known bands of all time.
May was able to re-open his Ph.D. in 2006 and completed it the following year.
Dr. May’s stereographic work has continued to help NASA on other missions in the last few years, and May and Lauretta have teamed up to write a book showcasing the 3D images captured over Bennu.