Brian May, the lead guitarist of legendary rock band Queen, steered a countdown to the new year for NASA’s New Horizons team members, families and friends at the Johns Hopkins Physics Applied Laboratory in Maryland.
May is a space enthusiast who doubles as a PhD in astrophysics from Imperial College London and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member. He has written his first solo song in two decades for the flyby of the 2014 MU69. The mysterious space rock, which is nicknamed Ultima Thule, orbits the sun one billion miles (1.6 billion kilometres) beyond Pluto in the Kuiper Belt.
He posted the music video honouring the spacecraft and its recent milestone to Queen’s official YouTube page.
Queen’s lead guitarist is working with the New Horizons mission’s science team, and the request for an official song came from Dr Alan Stern. May said he was initially reluctant about the task.
“I thought this is going to be hard because I can’t think of anything that rhymes with Ultima Thule,” he said, according to The New York Times.
The song he came up with begins with words from the late physicist Stephen Hawking, who recorded a video message when the NASA probe flew by Pluto.
May has collaborated with NASA before and even started an asteroid awareness campaign.