History was made millions of miles from Earth overnight. NASA scientists and engineers successfully landed the most advanced scientific rover ever created on the surface of Mars.
And among those celebrating at NASA was a man with a Seattle connection. And he's gaining notoriety for more than this mission.
After a harrowing eight-month journey through space and a nail-biter of a landing, the Mars rover Curiousity is already hard at work, sending back snapshots, including this one of the rover casting a shadow on its new home.
Getting Curiousity to Mars was an unprecedented and high-risk mission that NASA scientists and engineers spent years waiting for.
Cheers turned to tears at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California Monday night. Among those celebrating was Bobak Ferdowsi – the man wearing a Mohawk. He graduated from the University of Washington astronautics program in 2001. UW Professor Adam Bruckner recalls him being a 4.0 student.
“He was like the top student in the class,” said Bruckner.
Bruckner didn't recognize him at first.
“It took me a little while because his hairdo had changed in the meantime,” he said.
It seemed Ferdowsi's mohawk is generating just as much news as the rover landing. His patriotic hairdo has become quite the Internet sensation with fans blowing up his Twitter account. At last count, he has 23,000 plus followers, up from 200 before the mission.
Ferdowsi even tweeted a picture, saying "Folks asking about my hair, here it is. Been doing this for big events.”
Hair aside, it shouldn't overshadow the historic mission. And that, not the mohawk, is what is truly motivating these UW seniors Monday.
“It would be really amazing if you can accomplish so much and be a part of that mission,” said Brandon Truong, UW student.
“That was pretty exciting - proof that we can do that someday,” said Kevin Dimond, UW student.
NASA scientists and engineers will spend a couple of weeks checking out Curiosity’s systems. Then it’s down to business, answering that ages old question: whether Mars has the potential for hosting life.