"Mohawk Guy" Bobak Ferdowsi on bringing cool to NASA


(CBS News) Bobak Ferdowsi's patriotic Mohawk -- sported during the landing of the Mars Rover "Curiosity" last year -- earned him the name "Mohawk Guy," and gave NASA a serious dose of cool.

The MIT grad and NASA Mars Rover flight director, looking back over his year of fame, from his 60,000 plus Twitter followers to his invitations to the Inaugural Parade and State of the Union Address, said on "CBS This Morning," "It's all in context. If I was working at Starbucks, you wouldn't notice the hair. People aren't used to seeing that in NASA. There's a lot more guys like me working at NASA than a lot of people realize."

He added, "We're part of a generation where science is actually much cooler than it used to be. I don't think you would know if you were passing by a NASA engineer if you walked down the street anymore. We're not wearing the socks and sandals of yesterday and the pocket protectors. I think it's great. For me, it's wonderful to kind of represent that and say, 'Hey, you can be, you know, whatever you want to be personally and be an engineer or a scientist'."

For more on "Mohawk Guy"'s rise to fame, watch the report below.


Part of the story of "Mohawk Guy" is the actual science of the Mars mission and what may be on its way in human exploration of the planet. Ferdowsi said, "We have found direct evidence that Mars was habitable in its past. That doesn't mean there was life there necessarily, but that means if you put life there, it could have survived. And that just blows my mind -- the idea that there's two planets in our solar system that could support life at one point. I don't know what that means, but I think it says, 'That's kind of good odds that there might be life elsewhere in the universe."

So would Ferdowsi be one of the first in line to go to Mars if the project Mars One takes off? Mars One is talking about sending people on a one-way trip to Mars in a decade.

"I probably wouldn't take one of those (tickets)," Ferdowsi said. "I kind of like my family and friends too much. I wouldn't want to leave them behind."

However, he said the project has "a lot of great ideas." He added, "There's a lot of technical challenges, obviously, even as you saw with us. The complexity of landing something -- just a car on Mars, let alone houses and all the other things they'll need to land, it's going to be tough."

For more with Ferdowsi on his NASA experiences, the potential of a human presence on Mars, as well as more on his rise to fame, watch his full interview above.