NASA Rocket Scientists Carve the Most Incredible Pumpkins

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Here’s the thing about NASA’s rocket scientists: They’re smart. And maybe a little weird. When you get literal rocket scientists to channel their energy into something silly like a pumpkin carving contest, the results are bound to be incredible. Seriously:

Two groups at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has been running their pumpkin carving contest since 2011 (which we cover pretty much every year). Participants use power tools and machines to make pumpkins spin, expand, and even fly. The lone rule is that they have only an hour to carve the pumpkin—which they must use, somehow. Preparation is allowed beforehand.

JPL offers some tips for how to carve a pumpkin like they do, like including the guts, adding paint, wiring with lights, and using an Arduino to control the movement. You can see a full list of the participants on the JPL Flickr here.


I’ve reached out to JPL to see which pumpkin actually won the contest and will update the post when I hear back.


Update 4:20PM EST: A NASA spokesperson passed along the following list of winners:

Spacecraft Mechanical Engineering group:

First Place: Europa Clipper Pirate Ship
Second Place: The Harvest (Ghostbusters Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man)
Third Place: Operation Frank-O-Drop / Pumpkin Parachute


Payload and Small Spacecraft Mechanical Engineering Section:
First Place: Group 355M – Class “H” Mission (Hamster Wheel Pumpkin)
Second Place: Group 355S – Super Nova Death of a Star
Third Place: Group 355L – Starshade Pumpkin Launch Restraint and Unfurling System (Plus)