With the expected congratulatory remarks out of the way, Obama focused on Bobak Ferdowsi, activity lead and flight director on the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity mission, who became an internet sensation during the televised landing of Curiosity.
"I understand that there's a special ‘Mohawk guy' working on the mission?" Obama jokingly asked, which was promptly followed by a roar of laughter from JPL. Ferdowsi's haircut captivated viewers during the landing, which resulted in a meme devoted to the "Mohawk guy."
"I've, in the past, thought about getting a Mohawk myself," Obama added, but said he'd better not do it because of all the marriage proposals Ferdowski received.
Obama then discussed the inevitable politics that comes with any NASA mission, pointing out that his administration is working hard to protect NASA projects and embrace science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) topics in education. He pointed out that the inspiration that such an ambitious robotic mission to Mars brings will motivate the younger generations, perhaps inspiring them to one day be the first humans to walk on Mars.