During Curiosity's nail-biting landing on Mars last week, the world was in awe not only of human ingenuity but also the spiky star-spangled hairstyle of NASA flight engineer Bobak Ferdowsi. "NASA Mohawk Guy" stole the show, and today he earned himself a special shout-out from the President of the United States.
President Barack Obama called NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to congratulate the staff on the successful landing of the Mars Science Laboratory and the beginning of what is sure to be a historic mission. President Obama took time to mention the important scientific work that Curiosity would be doing on Mars, as well how the mission was sure to inspire a new generation of youth to pursue science as a career.
And then he came to the most important subject, Ferdowsi's now legendary haircut.
"I understand there is a special mohawk guy working on the mission, one of the many stars of the show last Sunday night," said the President. "You know, I thought about getting a mohawk myself but my team keeps on discouraging me. Now that he's received marriage proposals and thousands of new Twitter followers, I think I'm now going to go back to my team and see if it makes sense."
Laughing, JPL Center Director Charles Elachi quipped, "That's going to be the new fashion at JPL."
Turning to NASA's history, President Obama reflected, "it sounds like NASA has come a long way from the white shirts, dark-rimmed glasses, and pocket protectors. You guys are a little cooler than you used to be."
With the landing now complete, Ferdowsi has kept something of a low profile. Since suddenly being thrust into the spotlight he's only done a few interviews but has continued to be the subject of fan art and a single serving Tumblr.
Though some might see Ferdowsi's hair as a distraction from the mission, he has certainly energized people to be interested in space exploration. What's more, he's got nearly 50,000 Twitter followers keeping tabs on the Curiosity mission from inside the control room.
On the subject of the Presidential shout-out, Ferdowsi was humble but clearly excited when he Tweeted:
So incredible to have the POTUS call work today & thank the team! Still can't believe @barackobama called me mohawk guy!
— Bobak F. (@tweetsoutloud) August 13, 2012