Wonders in Space: #2 NASA

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The U.S. space agency NASA heralded relevance again this year, thanks to a picture-perfect landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars, and a not-so-nerdy flight director who caught the attention of the world. (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times-POOL)

In 2012, NASA sent space vehicles inching along the surfaces of two planets. Eight years of preparation culminated in "seven minutes of terror" as Curiosity went offline in order to land on Mars, keeping the control room in the dark. Once the rover woke up on the Red Planet, cheers and applause filled the halls of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Los Angeles.

Quite apart from his role in the mission, however, flight director Bobak Ferdowsi received a fair amount of personal attention for his mohawk haircut when the rest of America saw the inside of the control room. President Obama was so inspired by the successful mission that he joked about growing his own mohawk in emulation of Ferdowsi.

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