The world watched last August as the Curiosity rover descended onto the surface of Mars. Later this month, two of the project's most visible engineers will visit Mississippi State to share how this unmanned mission does more than satisfy idle curiosity.
Bobak "Mohawk" Ferdowsi and Adam "Elvis" Steltzner will begin their Jan. 29 visit with robotics demonstrations from high school participants from the Mississippi BEST competition. The day's events will continue at 6 p.m. in the Colvard Student Union with the men's presentation, which is free and open to the public.
Ferdowsi and Steltzner became Internet sensations with their unique hairstyles and enthusiasm during NASA's broadcast around the world during the agency's live stream of mission control as Curiosity entered Mars' atmosphere--a project they had integral parts in completing.
"These two engineers are part of history, and we are excited to have them speak here at Mississippi State," said Sarah Rajala, dean of the Bagley College of Engineering. "The teamwork and innovative problem solving involved in a mission of this magnitude is something we hope will resonate not only with our students, but also anyone who chooses to attend the lecture."
Essentially a car-sized robot, the Curiosity rover launched in November 2011, beginning a nine-month journey to the red planet. Culminating in what was dubbed "seven minutes of terror." The world watched the landing knowing it would end either in one of the most sophisticated rover landings in history or a multi-million dollar pile of rubble. It took precise timing, months of planning and a large team to successfully land the device on Mars.
Ferdowsi, a native of Philadelphia, Pa., served as the flight director of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover cruise mission phase and subsequent surface mission. Steltzner, a native of California, helped design, test and build the sky crane landing system for the Curiosity rover. He also was the development manager for the entry, descent and landing phase of the mission.
Ferdowsi and Steltzner's visit is part of the Bagley College of Engineering's Distinguished Lecture Series, which is sponsored by the Robert M. Hearin Foundation.
For more information visit www.bagley.msstate.edu/curiosity/