August 13th, 2012
12:41 PM ET
WHITE HOUSE (CNN) - President Obama called the members of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover team on Monday to congratulate them on the rover’s recent landing on Mars but he also asked for a heads up if they find any signs of life.
“If in fact, you do make contact with Martians please let me know right away,” the president joked. “Because 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.”
Mr. Obama spoke to seven team members in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California where the rover’s mission control is located. Curiosity landed on the surface of Mars last week and will spend the next two years investigating whether or not there is, or has been, life on the planet.
The president called their accomplishments ‘incredibly impressive’ and ‘mind-boggling’.
“What you've accomplished embodies the American spirit and your passion and your commitment is making a difference and your hard work is now paying dividends,” Obama said. “Because our expectation is that 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.”
He also said the group’s mission will continue to inspire children across the country.
“They're telling their moms and dads they want to be part of a Mars mission, maybe even the first person to walk on Mars and that kind of inspiration is the byproduct of work of the sort that you guys have done,” he added.
The president made the phone call while aboard Air Force One en route to Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska, where he will begin his three-day campaign bus tour through the neighboring state of Iowa.