As lead guitarist for the legendary rock group Queen, Brian May has spent an entire career in the spotlight. But last week, May traded the music for his other passion – science – and spent some time backstage with the New Horizons team as it dived into the first results from the Pluto flyby.
May, who has a doctorate in astrophysics, was awed by the opportunity to meet the team and sift through images and other Pluto system data in real time. And he’ll have other opportunities down the road, as mission principal investigator Alan Stern added May as a New Horizons science collaborator.
Dr. Brian May blogs about his experience with the New Horizons team and shares his stereo images of Pluto in this July 20, 2015 entry from his website:
“***Mon 20 July 15***
FIRST HIGH QUALITY REAL STEREO IMAGE OF PLUTO
First high quality REAL stereo image of Pluto.
I had an unforgettable 3 days with the amazing New Horizons team. I’m still ‘coming down’. Alan Stern, leader of the Science Team at APL in Laurel, Maryland, personally made sure I was treated like one of the family, as a collaborator, and I felt privileged to the nth degree.
I was, of course, as always, obsessed with finding stereoscopic opportunities while I was there, and the Gods of the Underworld must have been with me, because I was there when the first 2 by 2 mosaic full-planet picture was downloaded from the probe, and assembled into exactly the required highish res partner to the iconic ‘last-look’ photo which preceded the final fly-by. Baseline must be a few hundred thousand miles, but I’ll need to check that. Of course the New Horizons guys were already doing serious science on this image as it arrived, but I was able to assemble the two images to make the most satisfying stereo view I can ever remember making. I got some help making some prints on site, so I was able to show this 3-D to the entire team through the lenses of some OWLS I took over.
So this is definitely the first REAL high quality stereo image of Pluto in history. And we can say it’s officially NH approved !
No fiddling this time. The right image is the ‘last-look’ photo from 15th July, and the left image is the ‘two-by-two downloaded from NH on the 17th.
All I did was fine-adjust the orientations to match up, and match up the colouring by eye.
If you’ve been following the New Horizons mission closely, you’ll have seen Amy Teitel’s Pluto in a Minute videos. Well, before I left, we did one together, which I think will make you smile. It features this stereo view, so now you can see it as she saw it at that moment (we got a good ‘wow!’).
We’ll post up a link to that vid as soon as we have it.
Republished with permission of the author. To view the images of Pluto in 3-D, you need to buy or make a stereoscopic viewer.
Dr. Brian May has been fascinated by stereoscopic imaging since he was a child. In this interview with “Pluto in a Minute” producer Amy Teitel, he demonstrates how he brings New Horizons Pluto photos to life in 3-D.