Halloween is just a day away, and if you’re a space fan there’s no better way to celebrate than with a cheeky cosmos-themed pumpkin.
Thank the stars for NASA then, as the agency has once again hosted its annual pumpkin-making contest (here's last year's efforts) on Monday October 29, with some fantastic efforts on offer.
NASA hosts the contest at its Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California every year. This year was their seventh competition, giving engineers the chance to show they’re not just good at building spacecraft.
"I don't think, even at the time, they appreciated just how seriously our engineers were going to take it," NASA mechanical engineer Mike Meacham, who co-runs the contest, said in a statement about the first contest. His team came in third place last year.
There is no prize per se on offer other than the joy of winning, while entrants must not do any pumpkin work during regular office hours – you know, when they’re supposed to be exploring the Solar System and whatnot.
Instead, Meacham said they do it in their own time and plan out their designs in advance before being given a pumpkin to put their invention to life. He worked on his idea for six months before this year’s contest.
The winner last year was Mars 2020 rover engineer Iona Brockie, who designed a pirate ship sailing past Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, inspired by NASA’s Europa Clipper that will launch next decade.
NASA posted the entrants from this year on their Flickr account, and there were some really fantastic designs. Among our personal favorites is the Saturn pumpkin eating a model of the Cassini spacecraft (above), and the rather incredible pumpkin battle bots.
Check out some of our top picks below. And if you want to have your own go at making a space-themed pumpkin, then NASA has got a handy guide for you.