Former Husky becomes overnight sensation for Mars mission

Aug 6, 2012, 8:42 AM | Updated: 1:24 pm
cedargrove

UW grad Bobak Ferdowsi’s hair has gotten almost as much attention as the successful landing of NASA’s Curiosity rover (AP)

Few people knew about Bobak Ferdowsi before Sunday night’s
highly watched landing of NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover.
Now, the University of Washington grad is an overnight
star, thanks as much to his hair as his accomplishments.

The former Husky took center stage as the
mission reached its critical juncture. You couldn’t miss
the mohawk with maroon highlights and golden stars shaved
into his head, especially during the final moments when a
decade of work and $2.5 billion were on the line.

He describes his role as similar to that of Ed Harris in
Apollo 13. Throughout the evening pictures and videos of
him helping lead the mission went viral, and his Twitter
feed has now gone from just a few hundred followers to
over 18,000.

“I definitely didn’t expect to wake up seeing it all over
the Internet today,” Ferdowsi said of his image, speaking
to Ross and Burbank in an interview Monday morning.

He admitted there was plenty of pressure, then relief,
when Curiosity beamed back the first pictures from 352
million miles away.

“It’s just an incredible kind of nervousness followed by
this amazing moment of elation,” he said of the mission.
“The number of things that have to go right there for that
to work, and so many of them you only get one chance.”

Ferdowsi joined NASA after graduating from the University
of Washington nearly a decade ago. The outlandish hair is
a bit more recent. He’s had different looks for major
milestones throughout the lead up to Sunday night’s
landing.

“The mohawk more or less stays there the whole time. But
I thought I was kind of being subtle with this one. The
stars were like a little tribute, but the team actually
voted on this,” He said.

cedargrove
Activity lead Bobak Ferdowsi, center, wipes tears away after a successful landing inside the Spaceflight Operations Facility for NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times-POOL)

It was a proud moment not only for Ferdowsi but the number
of other UW grads he works with, telling Ross and Burbank
they took a moment during the celebration to snap a group
picture.

Now that he’s an overnight sensation, are a slew of
science-minded female followers soon behind? Ferdowsi
said he’s got a girlfriend, although he’s barely had any
time to see her with everything going on.

“For me, I’m still just kind of getting over the whole ‘We
made it to Mars thing,'” Ferdowsi laughed.

And after what he described as getting “little more than a
nap,” he’s back on the job, and the task at hand.

“What we’re looking for with Curiosity is habitability. Do
the other things that life require to exist, are they
there on Mars and could Mars have hosted life?” he
said that’s a big thing they want to find out.

By JOSH KERNS, MyNorthwest.com Reporter.

You might also be interested in:

Dave Ross: We’re the alien invaders now

Photo Gallery: NASA scientists react to Mars landing

Local News

Redistricting, long term care tax delay...
MyNorthwest Staff

Long-term care tax delay inches closer to passage after approval from state Senate

The Washington State Senate voted to delay implementation of the new long-term care payroll tax on Wednesday. 
17 hours ago
Rideshare companies...
Nick Bowman

Rideshare companies pour millions into PAC ahead of push for Washington ballot initiative

Rideshare companies have poured over $2 million into a new PAC, in what appears to be the precursor for a Washington ballot initiative. 
17 hours ago
MyShake...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Earthquake early warning app now available in Washington

Washington residents can now download MyShake, an earthquake early warning app, and get extra seconds of warning.
17 hours ago
hit-and-run...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Suspect arrested in Pierce County hit-and-run that killed one 12-year-old girl, injured another

A Pierce County SWAT team has arrested a 32-year-old man believed to be responsible for a hit-and-run collision that killed one 12-year-old girl.
17 hours ago
Bills, pickleball...
Nick Bowman

Pickleball, dinosaurs, and a state nickname: Lawmakers weigh trio of lighthearted bills

Among the bills under consideration during the 2022 legislative session are a handful of more lighthearted proposals from lawmakers.
17 hours ago
Echo Glen...
MyNorthwest Staff

Group of inmates, including murder suspect, escape from youth detention center in Snoqualmie

A group of inmates reportedly escaped from the Echo Glen Children's Center in Snoqualmie on Wednesday morning. 
17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
Former Husky becomes overnight sensation for Mars mission