You may think your Halloween jack-o-lantern game is pretty slick but, unless you happen to work for NASA, you may have a rude awakening coming.
The space agency conducted its annual pumpkin carving contest last week ahead of the holiday and the results, from some of the smartest minds out there, are impressive to say the least. The scientists carved out everything from depictions of aliens sucking up Earth life to references to Netflix’s popular series “Stranger Things.”
The sixth-annual competition was held at the offices of the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. Scientists there were competing more for bragging rights than anything else as the contest does not include a formal prize for the victor.
Halloween represents a special time for the JPL. The laboratory was created on Halloween day itself in 1936, making the place 80-years-old Monday. The octogenarian research and development center was founded by some California Institute of Technology students and amateur rocket enthusiasts after an explosion forced the group to move out into an isolated area next to the San Gabriel Mountains.
After its founding, the laboratory was first owned by the Army before later getting transferred to be under NASA’s umbrella.
The laboratory has played an integral part in the development of all sorts of major technologies, including the Corporal and Sergeant Missile systems created to counter German V-2 rockets during World War 2. Later, during the Cold War, the JPL helped develop America’s first spacecraft in less than three months’ time. Since then, JPL has played an important part in some of NASA’s best known space programs and has partnered with foreign space institutions like the Italian Space Agency and the European Space Agency.