Queen guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May helps Pluto Team examine data


Musician, singer, songwriter and astrophysicist Brian May says ‘it’s a thrill’ to be working with the New Horizons project.

17 July 2015 by Jesse Tahirali

He may be better known for rocking out on tracks like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Fat Bottomed Girls,” but Queen guitarist Brian May was at NASA headquarters Friday [17 July] to talk about a different kind of rock – Pluto, to be specific.

May, who holds a PhD in astrophysics, was in attendance for NASA’s latest briefing on New Horizons’ historic flyby of Pluto, which took place earlier this week. May was there as a “science team collaborator.”

Brian May speaks at the NASA headquarters on Friday
Queen guitarist Brian May speaks at the NASA headquarters on Friday, July 17, 2015.

Though he spoke only briefly, May told the New Horizons team he was thrilled to be in attendance.

 “I’m one of those people in Europe who’s been following your every move on our laptops and TVs, in our offices and in our bedrooms,” he said, standing in the audience. “What an amazing achievement. You have inspired the world. Thank you.”

On Tuesday, New Horizons became the first spacecraft to ever visit Pluto after completing an almost decade-long journey. Principle investigator Alan Stern told the audience that May had travelled from Europe to help the team work with the data they were receiving from the spacecraft following its journey past the dwarf planet.

From 1970 to 1974, May worked on his PhD at Imperial College in London, England, but abandoned his studies as Queen gained international success. In 2006, May returned to the school to complete his studies, earning his degree in 2007.