Look At These Super Nerdy Jack-o-Lanterns from NASA’s Pumpkin Carving Contest

NASA engineers created robotic jousting pumpkins and lots of space-themed entries.
An engineer carving a pumpkin

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California was formed on Halloween in 1936, so engineers at the lab take the holiday very seriously. In recent years, they’ve celebrated by holding an annual pumpkin carving contest in which NASA’s best and brightest use their expertise and training to craft elaborate jack-o-lanterns and compete for the top prize.

This year’s entries were as geeky and impressive as ever. Besides the (unsurprisingly) many, many space-mission-themed entries, there was a 3D computer-generated model of a pumpkin as well as battling pumpkin robots. Here are some highlights from this year’s competition.


There’s this ET jack-o-lantern, complete with bicycle, Reese’s Pieces, and multiple Elliotts:

An E.T. jack-o-lantern

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This Dia de los Muertos ofrenda commemorated JPL space missions past:

Ofrenda for space missions

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

There was this guitar-strumming, pumpkin-headed skeleton:

And a 3D model of a jack-o-lantern, for which no live pumpkins were harmed:

Engineers constructed plenty of interactive, nerdy-ass displays like this one, where a participant had to push a lever to try to meet the exact shock specifications of the pumpkin:

Or this one, where you had to guess the mass of the pumpkin using science and math (the equations on the pumpkins, I imagine, are there to help):

A planetary sample acquisition submarine pumpkin was placed on Europa (one of Jupiter’s moons) where it drilled into the team’s winning pumpkin design from last year:

Another Europa pumpkin was equipped with a counter adding up signs of life:

But my personal favorite had to be the jousting battlebot pumpkins, because who doesn’t love a good battlebot:

Happy Halloween, from one group of nerds to another!