NASA's Pumpkin-Carving Contest: Take a Look at Rocket Scientists' Astounding Creations

NASA Pumpkin
This Europa Clipper pumpkin display won NASA's annual pumpkin-carving contest this year. (Image credit: Lillian Chen/NASA JPL)

NASA held its seventh annual pumpkin-carving contest yesterday (Oct. 31) at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, where scientists and engineers competed to create the most geeky and spectacular pumpkin displays. The results are simply amazing.

In a facility full of people who build spacecraft for a living, it's no surprise that NASA's pumpkin carvers came up with some pretty impressive pumpkin displays.

From an exploding supernova and a parachuting gourd to a Europa Clipper and a sci-fi spaceship, here are the most amazing pumpkins NASA employees created this year. [Photos: Space Halloween Pumpkins a Cosmic Treat]

Possibly the most outstanding pumpkin at JPL was a parachuting pumpkin built by a team of engineers who specialize in entry, descent and landing procedures for Mars rovers like Curiosity. With an air blower beneath the pumpkin, the parachute kept the gourd afloat.

"It was like one of those indoor skydiving places," Pete Waydo, a mechanical engineer at JPL and a judge of the contest, told The Verge. "You could hang the pumpkin there on the parachute and it would free-fly indefinitely there."

And last but certainly not least, here's one of the more relatable contest entries: a Halloween-themed model of the parking garage at JPL, which NASA engineer Aaron Yazzie described as "ever-frightening" in a Twitter post.

Want to learn how to make pumpkins this cool? Check out our guide: Carve Like an Engineer: Halloween Pumpkin Design Advice from NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab.

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Hanneke Weitering
Contributing expert

Hanneke Weitering is a multimedia journalist in the Pacific Northwest reporting on the future of aviation at and Aviation International News and was previously the Editor for Spaceflight and Astronomy news here at As an editor with over 10 years of experience in science journalism she has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time, Hanneke enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos.