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Meet the guitarist who helped NASA “land” on an asteroid

Meet the guitarist who helped NASA “land” on an asteroid

When Brian May was a working-class young man in London, he began building his own telescope. He then built his own electric guitar. Two days after he graduated in physics, he was on stage with his band, opening for a Pink Floyd concert. It was 1968.

Today, Mayo, 76, is recognized as one of the greatest guitarists in rock history. This month he returns to the road with the latest incarnation of Queen, the legendary band he co-founded with Roger Taylor and the late Freddie Mercury. Also in October, he will publish a book called Atlas of Asteroid Bennu 3D images for you.

I met Mayo in 2015, when I was working with the mission NASA New Horizons. Now he is a friend. We share a fascination with the stars (Brian earned his PhD in astrophysics in 2007), as well as a deep and abiding love for animals (he is an animal welfare activist). I’ve been to many of their concerts, and often meet other people backstage who are Queen fans and Nerds From space (including a NASA employee who once appeared with… A copy of the doctoral thesis for the month of May).

Nadia Drake (ND): I bet many people who know him as a musician have no idea who Dr. May is, who earned his PhD studying zodiacal dust, a cloud of rocky grains that fills interplanetary space in our solar system. why did you choose this topic?

Brian May (BM): I knew you would ask. When I was doing postgraduate studies in infrared astronomy at Imperial College in the 1970s, one of the professors was conducting spectroscopic studies of zodiacal dust. Work has been halted because most of the equipment is no longer working. So they asked, “Do you want to take care of this?” When I looked at the project, I thought to myself: “This is great.” It was something that only a few people did.