The engineers of NASA showed off their skills in an office-wide Halloween pumpkin-carving contest this week held at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California.
On Monday, Oct. 29, the brilliant minds at the U.S. space agency showed off their creations, featuring pop culture references and, of course, some space-themed gourds.
NASA's Pumpkin-Carving Contest 2018
For an hour on Monday, engineers took time off of building spacecrafts and rovers to carve Charlie Brown, Cookie Monster, and E.T. Others created fighting robots, sharks, a space-faring pirate ship, and more.
The one rule was: engineers cannot carve their pumpkins during work hours. They have the liberty to plan and create their masterpieces at home using their own tools. The prize: bragging rights.
What happened when we let our engineers loose on pumpkins for JPL's seventh annual carving contest? Here are the results: https://t.co/z8zCjR6ZP4 pic.twitter.com/tRI0Rb8j7Z — NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) October 30, 2018
A Fun Halloween Tradition
"I don't think, even at the time, they appreciated just how seriously our engineers were going to take it," said mechanical engineer Mike Meacham, who is co-running the competition. In 2017, Meacham and his team won third place by creating a Frankenstein gourd that hovers in the air via a parachute and an air blower.
Other standouts from the previous years include this spinning pumpkin carousel that was created in Halloween 2016.
Here's what happens when @NASA has a pumpkin-carving contest:https://t.co/cc39F8X36e #NASApumpkin pic.twitter.com/9TKRSuPuwS — NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) October 26, 2018
"It's fun to see everybody bring the same kind of crazy energy that they do to making the flight projects to something as simple as a pumpkin carving contest.," shared Iona Brockie, also an engineer who, like Meacham, is working on the upcoming Mars 2020 rover.
The pumpkin carving competition is now on its seventh year at NASA. The U.S. space agency has even published a guide on how to create a jack-o-lantern for Halloween like a NASA engineer on its website. Photos and videos from this year's competition can be found in the agency's Flickr account.
NASA Mars 2020 Podcast
This week, NASA also launched a new podcast that follows the journey of the InSight lander to Mars. Narrated by science journalist Leslie Mullen, each episode will discuss the science and the people behind the mission until the spacecraft's scheduled approach to the red planet on Nov. 26.
The first two episodes are now streaming at the NASA and InSight websites, SoundCloud, and Apple Podcasts.