Tuesday, August 07, 2012

NASA's Mohawk Guy becomes a 'Curiosity,' and an Internet meme

One might think that Curiosity is NASA's biggest celebrity, but it's not. Instead, it's Bobak Ferdowsi, a NASA flight director and mission activity lead on the Curiosity mission, who has gone viral on the Internet as "NASA's Mohawk Guy."

The Mohawk Guy, as he has now been dubbed, became famous when those who waited up for the Curiosity landing were treated to a heavy dose of "mohawkish-ness" during the so-called "seven minutes of terror" of the actual Mars Science Laboratory landing. It - his haircut - became a meme for the Curiosity mission.

How is it that Ferdowsi doesn't have what might be considered a standard-issue (read: boring) NASA or other government haircut. It's not truly by choice. He changes his hair style for every mission based on a vote by his colleagues.

You might think of Ferowsi's hair style as the follicle-based version of the "peanuts moment" of every mission. As we discussed earlier, critical events in NASA missions always begin with peanuts being distributed for good luck. The practice apparently began after the first successful Ranger mission to land on the moon, which coincided with a JPL team member eating peanuts, and since then, it has turned into a tradition, much as Ferowsi's hair style has apparently become.

If nothing else, NASA's Mohawk Guy has seen his Twitter following explode. A mere 200 before the Curiosity landing, his following is over 38,000 now.

He's also proven quite good-natured about his new-found celebrity. You can watch him discuss it - as well as Curiosity - in the embedded video.

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