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Take A Look At What NASA Engineers Do At A Pumpkin Carving Contest

Let’s put it this way: If you put a team of NASA engineers on a deserted island full of pumpkins, we’re pretty sure they’d build a way off in about an hour.

What’s the best jack-o-lantern you saw during Halloween? Oh, cool, it had the outline of a cat carved into it, instead of a face? That’s neat. Was it full replica of the Death Star, complete with TIE Fighters around it? Did it have moving eyes and a mouth that breathed out dry ice? Was it hollowed out, fitted with red lights and a glass window and converted into an aquarium?

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If not, then you weren’t at NASA’s Pumpkin Carving Contest, in which the folks who work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory–the same people who operate the Mars Curiosity Rover–form teams. “Each team gets an hour to create their masterpiece,” according to the video’s description, which was posted by former NASA engineer Mark Rober (who you may remember from his gory, iPhone-enabled Halloween costumes). What the NASA engineers come up with in an hour is seriously impressive: Teams, following the old sculptors’ logic, shave away every part of a pumpkin that doesn’t look like the Death Star; they use some sort of mirroring tool to carve a perfect replica of a silver skull mask directly into the face of a pumpkin; they build a full-body jack-o-lantern complete with an alien creature popping out of its stomach that appears to have a working chocolate fountain pouring forth from its mouth. The video is a minute long, and can provide both a year’s worth of inspiration and a year’s worth of nightmares.

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About the author

Dan Solomon lives in Austin with his wife and his dog. He's written about music for MTV and Spin, sports for Sports Illustrated, and pop culture for Vulture and the AV Club

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