Photos: Pumpkin planets shine in NASA JPL's 2018 carving contest

By Mike Wall
October 31, 2018, 10:29:44 AM EDT

Aerospace engineers can carve a mean pumpkin.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California — the agency's go-to center for robotic planetary exploration — held its seventh annual pumpkin-carving contest this week, and the results were as impressive as you might imagine.

cassini

This tribute to NASA's Saturn-studying Cassini mission was part of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's seventh annual pumpkin-carving contest, which was held Oct. 29, 2018. Credit: J. Krohn/JPL-Caltech/NASA


One contestant's pumpkin was styled as Saturn gobbling up a spacecraft — a clear homage to NASA's Cassini mission, which ended more than 13 years of groundbreaking work in the Saturn system last September with an intentional death dive into the ringed planet's thick atmosphere.

europa

This entrant in the 2018 pumpkin-carving contest at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory referenced the agency's plans to explore Jupiter's ocean-harboring moon Europa.Credit: J. Krohn/JPL-Caltech/NASA


Another, even more elaborate design focused on NASA's plans to study Jupiter's moon Europa, which harbors an ocean of liquid water under its icy shell. The agency is developing a $2 billion mission called Europa Clipper, which is scheduled to launch in the early 2020s. Clipper will orbit Jupiter and investigate Europa up close over dozens of flybys, assessing the moon's habitability and scouting out touchdown locations for a future drill-equipped, life-hunting lander.

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