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Nasa engineers carve hi-tech pumpkins in annual competition

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Media captionAhead of Halloween, Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineers apply their mechanical expertise to Jack-o-Lanterns

Carving pumpkins may not be rocket science - but that hasn't stopped Nasa engineers.

Scientists at the space agency's Jet Propulsion Lab held their annual contest to create the best pumpkin this week.

Entries included a gourd inspired by Star Wars villain Darth Vader, and two pumpkins dressed as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton being hit by a meteor.

Motors, robotics and lights all featured heavily.

Nasa JPL mechanical engineer Aaron Yazzie posted some of the hi-tech entries on Twitter, complete with commentary. The result resembles a joyful science fair for the world's biggest space geeks.

Image copyright Aaron Yazzie / Twitter
Image caption One offering saw a flaming meteor heading for US election candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

One team created a pumpkin modelled on popular video game character PACMAN, featuring a moving robotic mouth.

Another turned the hollowed-out vegetable into a barbecue full of coals, and topped it with a grill.

Mr Yazzie was impressed by an entry featuring flashing lights and a robotic arm that slinks out of the pumpkin, that was entitled a "Useless Machine".

Image copyright Aaron Yazzie / Twitter
Image caption Engineer Aaron Yazzie was impressed by this fluorescent offering

Perhaps the most striking was a hovering take on the Mars helicopter, which is designed to scout locations across the red planet. With its own tripod and rotating blades, the jack-o'-lantern glowed against a backdrop of winking Christmas light "stars".

Nasa has had something of a pumpkin-themed week, after releasing images of a patch of stars shaped like the foodstuff.

According to the space agency, the 18 stars got their distinctive shape because they are spinning so fast that they've been "squashed into pumpkin-like shapes".

Image copyright NASA Kepler / Twitter
Image caption The discovery came from a survey by the Kepler space observatory

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