Monday August 29, 2016

Exploring Alien Worlds

A NASA engineer famous for his mohawk hairstyle during the Mars Curiosity Rover landing will speak at the University of Dayton on Sept. 29.

NASABobak Ferdowsi’s talk, "Who Knows What Evil Lurks Below the Surface: Exploring Alien Worlds With Robots,” at 6:30 p.m. in the Kennedy Union ballroom, is free and open to the public.

Ferdowsi became an instant celebrity in 2012 when people saw his hair on NASA’s live feed of the Curiosity landing. President Barack Obama called him “Mohawk Guy” in a congratulatory call to NASA afterward. Ferdowsi is currently a systems engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory working as a mission planner for NASA's planned Europa mission.

Europa is a moon of Jupiter with a subsurface ocean, and scientists believe it may be home to microbial extraterrestrial life. The Europa Clipper will make multiple close flybys of the moon, sending images back to NASA and selecting a landing site for a future lander.

University of Dayton researchers have been involved in testing the system that could power the mission. Before his talk, Ferdowsi will tour the Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (MMRTG) Lifecycle Testing Laboratory at the University of Dayton Research Institute. MMRTG technology powered the Curiosity rover, and will be used on the next rover mission to Mars in 2020. University researchers have been evaluating this technology for the harsh environments the system will encounter on Mars 2020, and on its way through deep space to Europa.

Tickets are not required for Ferdowsi’s talk. Parking is available without a permit in lots B and C only.

For more information, contact Meagan Pant, assistant director of media relations, at 937-229-3256 or mpant1@udayton.edu.

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