On Thursday, Rice University brought that iconic figure back into the spotlight when hosted Bobak "Mohawk Guy" Ferdowsi and Ravi Prakash, engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, for an installment of the Space Frontier Lecture Series.
David Alexander, director of the Rice Space Institute and professor of physics and astronomy, told CultureMap that students were "jazzed" to hear these two enthusiastic and passionate young scientists talk about their involvement with such a major project.
After a long day of visiting classrooms and interacting with Rice students and staff, Prakash and Ferdowsi gave a 45-minute presentation to a packed house at McMurtry Auditorium, followed by a 45-minute question and answer session — that ended only when Alexander cut it off.
Alexander said that even he was surprised to learn, firsthand, the amount of preparation and the degree of complexity that goes into a mission like the Mars Curiosity rover's, and about the precision with which the team was able to land the space craft, given that they were using Apollo-era algorithms and software.
"I don't know how we're going to follow it," admitted Alexander, who is still working to secure two lecturers for the spring semester.
Watch the video documenting Ferdowsi and Prakash's Rice visit above.