• Lia N. Rovira

NASA-JPL Takes Pumpkin Carving Very Seriously

You’d think that building robots that explore other planets would be a fulfilling job, but employees at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory take carving Halloween pumpkins just as seriously.

For the past seven years, the JPL crew - which include bright minds working on the company’s rover mission to Mars in 2020 - have held an “unofficial” pumpkin carving contest that lets engineers demonstrate their creative muscle.

(And you thought building spacecraft was flexing).

According to co-organiser and engineer Mike Meacham, whose team won bronze in 2017 for a “green Frankenstein gourd that hovered in mid-air, suspended by a mini-parachute and an air blower,” had no idea how much engineers loved pumpkins.

Previous endeavors include a carved UFO beaming up a cow and a carousel that spun around smaller pumpkins, or even a gourd that could turn its own lights off.

But if that’s not enough, try “a celestial pirate ship that sailed past Jupiter on an ocean of dry ice.”

For US citizens worrying about tax dollars, don’t worry, you’re not paying to entertain engineers each October. The vegetables are only allowed to be carved after work hours, but the competition as a whole is as good for morale.

“Everyone gets so excited about this competition that has no prize other than bragging rights,” said another Mars 2020 rover engineer, Iona Brockie. “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.”

As for the Mars 2020 mission, all we can hope for is that the rover it’ll be sending won’t be mistakenly made of pumpkin.

Happy Halloween! Be sure to follow my social media (Instagram: @astrolia) and subscribe to get the best of space exploration delivered to your inbox every week.

Source: This story was originally published on Memeburn. I am republishing a lightly edited version on SkyFeed in light of interest on the subject. Walker, Andy. "NASA's JPL Takes Its Halloween Pumpkin Carving Competition Very Seriously." Memeburn. 30 Oct, 2018. Web article. Citation: Rovira, Lia N. "NASA-JPL Takes Pumpkin Carving Very Seriously." SkyFeed. 31 Oct, 2018. Web article.

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