'Nasa mohawk guy' outshines Curiosity

JAMES MANNING
Last updated 14:00 07/08/2012
Bobak Ferdowsi
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MARSHAWK: Bobak Ferdowsi, aka 'NASA Mohawk Guy'.

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As the first images of Mars from Nasa's rover Curiosity went viral across the web, so too did a 32-year-old Nasa flight director from Pasadena, California.

Never mind the fact that Nasa had just successfully landed the most sophisticated spacecraft ever on another planet: the internet had a new celebrity.

'Nasa Mohawk Guy', also known as Bobak Ferdowsi, stood out from the sea of his tense-faced, blue-shirted colleagues thanks to his patriotic hairdo: a blue and red mohawk with yellow stars on the side of his head.

He quickly caught the attention of viewers, and within minutes his hairdo and pearly white smile were circulating on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Reddit. Nasa had a new social media star and the internet had a new meme.

Cementing his status as an overnight internet sensation, a Tumblr page was set up in his honour called NASA Needs More Mohawks [language warning].

"Guides a rover through space and into my heart," reads one of the most popular images, while another makes note of the fact that the young engineer was blissfully unaware of his fame until after the fact: "Becomes an internet sensation. Too busy landing a robot on Mars to notice."

Ferdowsi had less than 200 followers on Twitter before the Mars landing, and now has over 26,000 and climbing. He has since interacted with some of his new fans, but has mostly continued to post updates about the mission. "Looking fwd to seeing what's new and talking to you all. #MSL" he tweeted on Monday morning Los Angeles time.

He even referenced his newfound stardom with the following tweet: "Internet, you win this round. I'll be back later, but thanks so much. Now going to celebrate with all my friends and team! #msl."

Ferdowsi, who is an 'Activity lead' on the Curiosity mission, creates a new hairdo for every mission. This star-spangled style, which was voted for by his colleagues at NASA Mission Control, was "meant to be patriotic as well as cosmic", he told The Atlantic. His previous hairstyles range from run-of-the-mill quiffs to a slightly more eye-catching red updo.

'Mohawk Guy' studied aeronautical and astronautical engineering at the University of Washington and MIT. You can follow him on Twitter here.

-Sydney Morning Herald

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