President Barack Obama called the NASA team responsible for last week's masterful landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars, congratulating them for an "incredibly impressive" achievement that "embodies the American spirit."
"Curiosity stuck her landing and captured the attention and the imagination of millions of people, not just across our country, but people all around the world," Obama told a room full of delighted NASA employees at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
After a 352 million-mile journey, the $2.5 billion Curiosity finally touched down on Mars on August 6. It will spend the next two years studying the environmental conditions and geology of the red planet.
But what about the aliens?
"Somebody asked me the other day whether you've already found Martians," Obama joked. "I told them we have to give you a little bit of time."
"If in fact you do make contact with Martians, please let me know right away," Obama said. "I've got a lot of things on my plate, but I expect that that will go to the top of the list. Even if they're just microbes, it will be pretty exciting."
The president also gave a shout out to NASA's unexpectedly popular pin-up boy, the mohawk-sporting Internet sensation Bobak Ferdowski.
"I, in the past, thought about getting a Mohawk myself," Obama joked. "But my team keeps on discouraging me. And now that he's received marriage proposals and thousands of new Twitter followers, I think I'm going to go back to my team and see if it makes sense."
"It does sound like NASA's come a long way from the white shirts, dark-rimmed glasses and pocket protectors," the president added.
For up-to-date photos and video of Curiosity's great Mars adventure, you can follow the car-sized rover on her Twitter handle, @MarsCuriosity.
And because you can't possibly have seen it enough times, here's the video of NASA scientists celebrating Curiosity's picture-perfect landing on Mars.
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