One would think it would take something pretty extraordinary to eclipse a mission to Mars. But combine social media with a funky hairdo, and suddenly, landing of a probe on the red planet was reduced to a footnote.
Gone are the days when NASA control rooms were the domain of men in short-sleeve white shirts and black ties. In 2012, it’s all about the Mohawk or, specifically, the star-spangled take on the Mohawk by one very popular NASA employee, flight director Bobak Ferdowski.
When Ferdowski and his NASA colleagues watched the $2.5bn Mars Curiosity rover land safely on the red planet early Monday morning after a journey spanning eight months, and 352 million miles – cheers and applause broke out in the control room. But the world’s attention quickly switched from the landing. When TV cameras caught a close-up shot of Ferdowski, 32, and his Mohawk with star shapes buzzed in and all, the internet was whipped into an all-out meme and social media frenzy.
The images of Ferdowski and his cool do, (which he reportedly changes for each mission he works on) have since gone viral.
The young MIT graduate has in the past week attracted thousands of new followers to his Twitter account, where he describes himself as “Flight director on the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity mission.”
So far Ferdowski 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 ;)”
One thing’s for sure – Ferdowski’s do has surely given NASA a massive branding boost.