Curiosity Satisfied — Why the Mohawk for JPL's Bobak Ferdowsi?

Curiosity Satisfied — Why the Mohawk for JPL's Bobak Ferdowsi?

Apart from the landing itself, the most publicized aspect of the Mars Curiosity mission so far is the Mohawk haircut of one of JPL’s landing team,  Bobak Ferdowsi.    Flight director for Curiosity’s landing, Ferdowsi became an instant celebrity dubbed “Mohawk man.”  He and Adam Steltzner, entry-descent-and landing (EDL) phase lead, were guests on yesterday’s NPR program Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me.  Not only is it a fun program to listen to, but the interview with the duo satisfied everyone’s curiosity about — why the Mohawk?  

Steltzer also told the story of his unusual path to JPL, which should be music to the ears of many young people who don’t know in high school what they want to be when they grow up.

The segment is worth listening to, but for those who don’t have time, NPR provides a transcript at that link as well.  

And for those who don’t even have time to click on that link, we’ll tell you.

Ferdowsi (below, on the left) apparently got a different haircut for each phase of the mission, from launch to landing.   “The team” voted on what style he should have this time, and they chose the Mohawk.


Photo credit:  NPR, crediting “Left: Brian van der Brug-Pool/Getty Images/Right Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images”

As for Steltzer (on the right), he was a high school dropout who played in a rock band in the San Francisco Bay area for a few years.  Driving home in the wee hours, he wondered why there was a different set of stars when he drove home compared to when he drove there “and I had some vague recollection about something moving with respect to something else” so went to a local community college to find out more.  One thing led to another and eventually to JPL.   Unfortunately, he also said he is now out of a job and joked “Will land on Mars for food.”


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