Each year, engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) use pumpkins to create interesting things related to space.
JPL is part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the American space agency.
The engineers are responsible for organizing robotic space missions and earth science experiments. The laboratory is part of Caltech, the California Institute of Technology.
Pumpkins are very popular at this time of year, especially in the United States. The large, orange fruit is a sign of the fall harvest, and countless Halloween observances.
At JPL, the engineers take part in a competition to see who can come up with the best-looking pumpkin. The event is held around Halloween, when Americans turn pumpkins into funny or frightening creations.
Naturally, the pumpkin projects show off the engineers’ great scientific and technical abilities. But they also demonstrate their creativity, humor and love of the planets.
After choosing a favorite pumpkin, groups of engineers are given just one hour to create anything they want. Since pumpkins are often round, they are perfect for representing planets.
Many of this year’s pumpkins had themes related to Mars, since the Red Planet has been in the news so much recently. Some included “sample” materials from Mars. One even had an image of what is supposed to be a Martian.
Another pumpkin featured a model of the Juno space probe orbiting the planet Jupiter.
There was also a space carousel, as well as a pumpkin made to look like Ms. Pac-Man from the video arcade game. One project showed a giant meteor on fire, flying toward pumpkin heads of two famous Americans. They are presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
To see images of these and other pictures posted by JPS, go to our website learningenglish.voanews.com.
I’m Anne Ball.
Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
theme – n. main subject being represented or discussed
probe – n. unmanned spacecraft used to gather and record information about its environment
carousel – n. machine or device that carries things in a circle
meteor – n. piece of rock or metal that burns and glows brightly as it falls from outer space into the Earth's atmosphere