NASA Mohawk Guy: Mars Curiosity mission director becomes instant hit

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Meet NASA’s “Mohawk Guy,” Bobak Ferdowsi. The Iranian-American flight director for the Mars Curiosity mission became an instant celebrity this week after the US space agency successfully landed the unmanned rover on the red planet – stirring such interest the agency’s Internet servers crashed.

Ferdowsi himself, who changes his hair cut each mission, has apparently “caused quite a stir with his unique hairstyle, rugged good looks, and geek credentials,” CNET’s Amanda Kooser reports. “In the process of helping to successfully land the Mars rover, Ferdowsi also landed many hearts. Declarations of love and Twitter marriage proposals are now coming fast and furious.”

“The Internet rewarded Ferdowsi’s daring ‘do in the best way it knows how: by making it into a meme,” the Atlantic’s Megan Garber writes. “An instant one. The Internet gave Ferdowsi, in the space of an hour, a dedicated Tumblr. It gave him tags on Tumblr. It gave him a specialized visual taxonomy, featuring images categorized as, for example, ‘Smiling Bobak,’ ‘Nervous Bobak,’ ‘Teamwork Bobak,’ and ‘Busy Bobak.’ And it gave Ferdowsi …a cosmic rise in Twitter followers: nearly 8,000 of them in the past couple hours.”

Indeed Ferdowsi’s Twitter following is now over 35,000, up from around 200 before the rover landed on Mars Monday, when he wrote:

So incredible to be a part of this team and all that we’ve accomplished. Impossible not to be an emotional wreck. #msl #jpl #nasa #curiosity

One Iran news website declared Ferdowsi “Iranian of the day,” citing one “man blogging about the landing mission on tumblr: ‘Bobak Ferdowsi is the new standard of attractiveness. Good looking and smart. Us male-folk are screwed.'”

Here’s an interview Ferdowsi gave to Shira Lazar:

Meantime, Ferdowsi has signed up to do a Skype chat with the Washington Post on Wednesday 1:30 EST.

(Photo: Reuters)