Many watching Sunday night’s landing of NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover seemed almost as impressed by the mohawk that landed on the head of Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer Bobak Ferdowsi as they were about the technological feat. Ferdowsi, a 2001 University of Washington graduate, helped lead the mission with a hairstyle he prepared just for the occasion, according to his Twitter account: a maroon-streaked mohawk with stars bleached onto the hair shaved below it.
His image has blown up across social media, making Ferdowsi one of the event’s most memorable characters. In less than 24 hours, Ferdowski has gone from having a few hundred Twitter followers to more than 25,000.
The Washington Post’s Style blog attributed his popularity to the way his mohawk challenges long-held stereotypes of scientists. Another blogger proclaimed, “Forget the thick black framed glasses, polyester ties and pocket protectors of the control room staff at the Apollo landings — this is the face of 21st century NASA!”
Ferdowsi graduated from UW with a bachelor’s degreee in Aeronautics and Astronautics and then went on to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to University of Washington spokeswoman Hannah Hickey.