"Mohawk Guy" to Share Mars Curiosity Experience with So. Cal. Students


Students will interact with astronomers at AAS meeting in Long Beach today.

Hundreds of Southern California middle- and high-school students will enjoy an out-of-this-world experience today when they drop in on the American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting now under way at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center. At 11:30 a.m. PST they'll hear from NASA flight director Bobak Ferdowsi, known worldwide as the colorfully coiffed "Mohawk Guy" who helped guide the Curiosity rover to a safe touchdown on Mars last summer. Then they'll tour the Exhibit Hall, where they'll meet astronomers from all over the country and participate in a variety of interactive educational activities. The exciting event will inspire the students (who'll be accompanied by teachers and other chaperones) to think about pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Bobak Ferdowsi is a flight director and member of the Engineering Operations Team for the Curiosity Mars rover at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena. He earned his B.S. in aeronautics and astronautics at the University of Washington and his M.S. in the same field at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Bobak says he's always wanted to work on missions to Mars. He rides his bike to work and plays shortstop in the JPL softball league.

The Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center is located at 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90802. Bobak Ferdowsi's presentation will occur in Room 101, on the ground floor. More than 2,800 astronomers, educators, students, and journalists are registered to attend the AAS meeting, which runs through Thursday and features more than 1,900 prize and invited talks, oral presentations, posters, and workshops. Attendees are tweeting from the meeting with the hashtag #aas221, which on Monday was one of Twitter's top-trending topics.

The AAS, established in 1899 and based in Washington, DC, is the major organization of professional astronomers and planetary scientists in North America. Its membership of about 7,000 also includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers, and others whose research interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising contemporary astronomy. The mission of the AAS is to enhance and share humanity's scientific understanding of the universe.

SOURCE American Astronomical Society

The AAS offers complimentary press registration to local print, broadcast, and online media representatives who wish to cover the event. See http://aas.org/meetings/aas221/press_kit for a complete schedule of press conferences and other activities of interest to journalists.

CONTACT: Dr. Rick Fienberg, AAS Press Officer, +1 857-891-5649 (cell), rick.fienberg@aas.org

Web Site: http://www.aas.org

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