President Obama called NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Monday to congratulate the team involved with the landing on Mars last week of the rover Curiosity.
“You guys have done an outstanding job, you’ve made us all proud,” the president said.
Obama said the feat captured the attention and imagination of people across the country and around the world, and he joked that he would give the team “a little bit of time” to find and make contact with life on the red planet.
“If in fact you do make contact with Martians, please let me know right away,” the president quipped. “I’ve got a lot of other things on my plate, but I suspect that that will go to the top of the list. Even if they’re just microbes, it will be pretty exciting.”
Obama also joked about Curiosity’s flight director, Bobak Ferdowsi, who has become something of an Internet sensation because of his mohawk hairdo.
“I, in the past, thought about getting a Mohawk myself,” he said, adding that rocket scientists don’t appear to be as nerdy they once were. “You guys are a little cooler than you used to be.”
An a more serious note, the president gave a shoutout to the mission’s international partners and said he looks forward to hearing about discoveries from Curiosity.
“You guys should be remarkably proud,” he said. “We couldn’t be more grateful to you, so congratulations.”