Curiosity captures the view on Mars on August 8 ( NASA/JPL-Caltech via Getty Images)
President Barack Obama placed a congratulatory telephone call to the NASA team behind the Mars "Curiosity" rover, joking he might go for a Mohawk to emulate flight director Bobak Ferdowsi, and quipping that he needed to be told "right away" if the probe finds any little green men.
"If, in fact, you do make contact with Martians, please let me know right away," he said in the call. "I've got a lot of other things on my plate, but I suspect that that will go to the top of the list. Even if they're just microbes, it will be pretty exciting."
[Slideshow: Curiosity beams Mars photos back to Earth]
Obama offered a personal shout-out to "special Mohawk Guy" (yes, the White House transcript capitalized "Guy"). "I, in the past, thought about getting a Mohawk myself, but my team keeps on discouraging me," Obama said. "And now that he's received marriage proposals and thousands of new Twitter followers, I think that I'm going to go back to my team and see if it makes sense."
"It does sound like NASA has come a long way from the white shirt, black dark-rimmed glasses and the pocket protectors," the president said. "You guys are a little cooler than you used to be."
On a more serious note, Obama congratulated the team on Curiosity's successful landing on the Red Planet a week ago and praised the technical skill required as "mind-boggling."
[Related: Who is NASA's 'Mohawk Guy'?]
"What you've accomplished embodies the American spirit, and your passion and your commitment is making a difference," he said."
"'Curiosity' is going to be telling us things that we did not know before and laying the groundwork for an even more audacious undertaking in the future, and that's a human mission to the Red Planet," Obama said.
And he pledged his "personal commitment to protect" government investments in science and technology.