Quite funny how a guy with a slightly idiosyncratic hairstyle has managed to make NASA more tumblr-famous than the one tonne robot that absailed down from its jetpack onto the surface of Mars. But I guess that’s Tumblr for you…
Congratulations to all the men and women (and I think I even saw a 6 year old child there at JPL, grats to her too) whose feat ranks as one of the highest in ambition and success in the history of space travel. Including you, starry-patched mohawk guy.
Consider this, and the dynamic team at SpaceX, as a huge boon to the public view of space exploration. Why? Because, sadly, over the years the NASA image has gotten very stodgy, staid, buttoned up. While the idea of exploration and adventure was always at the heart of everything they did, NASA failed to get that excitement out. Many astronauts did their best. Some succeeded very well (Mike!). But if you ever look in on the ISS Mission Control these days it just looks like an office. Quiet. Professional. Boring.
What a lot of people saw when they saw not just Boback, but his collegues, was us. We saw ourselves in that control room. Not a bunch of sticks in the mud in shirt sleeves but people we want to hang out with. People with personality that matches their drive and curiosity. (Not to say that NASA is filled with sticks in the mud.)
Of course the whole team deserves kudos and credit and recognition. Boback was noticed because he’s a dynamic, good looking guy and it’s not just the mohawk. It’s how he wears the mohawk. He owns it. He’s happy in it. He commands it.
I don’t think he’s getting more notice than Curiosity on Tumblr, at least not on my dash. But why shouldn’t he get noticed? He’s become the face of JPL. This is fantastic. Celebrate this.
Scientists and engineers are rock stars. Science is youth and adventure.
We’ve known this for years. If it took a confident guy with a mohawk and a winning smile to draw some more people in, then so be it. We want people to be excited about science and to have heroes. Well, now we have a new one that young people can look up to and say, “I want to be like Bobak someday. I want to build robots and send them to Mars and beyond.”
Why shouldn’t a person get some press? Yes, Curiosity is doing the work. She’s a marvel of engineering, computer design and craftsmanship.
Humans did that. Bobak has become the unwitting face of humanity’s feat.