“You've made us all proud,” he told them, calling their work “inspiring” and an example of American ingenuity.
“I'm going to give you guys a personal commitment to protect these investments in science and technology,” he said.
He also asked about the NASA flight director who became an Internet sensation due to his highly visible role in the control room during Curiosity’s Martian landing last week.
“You guys are a little cooler than you used to be,” Obama joked when he asked about “Mohawk guy,” Flight Director Bobak Ferdowsi. "It does sound like NASA has come a long way from the white shirt, black dark-rimmed glasses and the pocket protectors," he noted.
"And I, in the past, thought about getting a mohawk myself — but my team keeps on discouraging me," he continued. "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."
Updated at 1:29 p.m.