Gone are the days when a NASA control roomwould be filled with guys with buzz cuts and pocket protectors.
In 2012, it’s all about the Mohawk or, specifically, the Mohawk of one now very popular NASA employee, flight director Bobak Ferdowsi.
When Ferdowsi and his NASA colleagues watched the $2.5 billion Mars Curiosity rover land safely on the surface of the red planet early Monday morning after an eight month, 352-million-mile journey, cheers and applause broke out in the control room.
When TV cameras caught a close-up shot of Ferdowsi, 32, and his Mohawk with star shapes buzzed in and all, cheers and applause broke out across the Internet, and the thundering hasn’t stopped since.
Ferdowsi has changed his haircut for each mission he’s worked. But a glimpse of a young, Mohawk-wearing guy who knows his aeronautical and astronomical facts enough to land a spacecraft on Mars was enough to make Ferdowsi, a University of Washington and MIT graduate, go viral.
First came the online meme, the Tumblr and then the thousands of new followers to his @tweetsoutloud Twitter account, where he describes himself as “Flight director on the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity mission. Exercise fiend. Mediocre shortstop.”
Some of Ferdowsi’s thousands of new fans on Twitter are asking, not just to follow him, but to marry him.
“@tweetsoutloud I know you’ve been busy, but will you marry me? land something on mars if the answer is yes,” wrote @amaeryllis, in a post that is now common on the Twitter feed of the nine-year NASA veteran.
” @tweetsoutloud Besides, you’re an overnight sensation, and all the ladies love you!! Including this one ;)
So far Ferdowsi is downplaying his newfound fame. He tweeted, “Not rdy for the attention, but happy to show it takes all types to make @MarsCuriosity ! If only my coworkers wld stop making fun of me ;)”
But with the Mars Rover set to explore the red planet for the next 22 months and continue to deliver never-before-seen photos of outer space, there’s no telling to what galaxy Ferdowsi’s fame could go.