From an homage to 'Star Wars,' to an exploding star, NASA engineers got creative with their pumpkin carving designs. 
nasa engineers pumpkin carving
Credit: Courtesy of NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Halloween is behind us, but if you’re already feeling nostalgic for pumpkin carving, look no further than…NASA? Yes, that’s right, the space exploration agency recently held their annual pumpkin-carving contest, and as you might expect from the smartest people on the planet, the results were nothing short of incredible.

There was a pumpkin tribute to LIGO, the NASA project that detects gravitational waves. One of the winners of the contest transformed a pumpkin into the Europa Clipper, a Victorian-era ship complete with billowing sails. The team behind the pumpkin masterpiece also managed to mechanize it, so it moves as though it’s sailing across the ocean. The Europa Clipper is also the name of a newly minted NASA mission that will explore Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons.

nasa pirate ship pumpkin carving
Credit: Courtesy of NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Were these pumpkins of the especially geeky variety? Yes, but they were also impressively intricate. One engineer rigged up pieces of a pumpkin to expand and contract to imitate the death of a star. Another one made Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from pumpkins and then recreated the scene from Ghostbusters in which it explodes. Another expert pumpkin carver paid homage to the movies with his creation, a TIE Fighter from Star Wars that could hang from the ceiling, which you can check out over at

For a truly terrifying scene, someone even recreated the Jet Propulsion’s parking garage between two halves of a pumpkin.

Don’t feel bad if you’re regretting your less creative designs— after all, you don’t build spaceships for a living, so you might not have this kind of creative energy and design knowledge at your fingertips.

In case you’re curious, Aaron Yazzie, a mechanical engineer at NASA, announced the winners of the contest on Twitter late yesterday evening, and yes, that intricately detailed Stay Puft Marshmallow Man did get the recognition that it deserves.