NASA launched a Minotaur V rocket destined for the moon Friday, but it wasn’t alone.
One photo captured what appears to be a giant leap for frog-kind.
The photobombing frog seems to have blasted off the ground along with the LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) spacecraft, which was launched from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. A person who noticed the photo wrote that the event took place near their hometown.
“Everyone was happy. A frog was not so lucky,” the person wrote.
If you’re wondering about the relative size of the frog compared to the rocket, LADEE is the size of a small car.
Universe Today further confirmed with NASA that the image is genuine, being taken from a remote NASA camera. What can’t be confirmed is the status of the frog — one can only hope.
Other stunning photos were taken of the launch as well.
Unlike the quick three-day Apollo flights to the moon, LADEE will need a full month to reach Earth’s closest neighbor. An Air Force Minotaur V rocket, built by Orbital Sciences Corp., provided the ride for the spacecraft from which scientists want to learn the composition of the moon’s ever-so-delicate atmosphere and how it might change over time. Another puzzle, dating back decades, is whether dust actually levitates from the lunar surface.
The $280 million moon-orbiting mission will last six months and end with a suicide plunge into the moon for LADEE.
The 844-pound spacecraft has three science instruments as well as laser communication test equipment that could revolutionize data relay. NASA hopes to eventually replace its traditional radio systems with laser communications, which would mean faster bandwidth using significantly less power and smaller devices.
“There’s no question that as we send humans farther out into the solar system, certainly to Mars,” that laser communications will be needed to send high-definition and 3-D video, said NASA’s science mission chief, John Grunsfeld, a former astronaut who worked on the Hubble Space Telescope.
Although the Sept. 6 launch event was described as “beautiful,” the LADEE spacecraft quickly ran into equipment trouble.
LADEE’s reaction wheels were turned on to orient and stabilize the spacecraft, which was spinning too fast after it separated from the final rocket stage, S. Peter Worden, director of NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, said. But the computer automatically shut the wheels down, apparently because of excess current. He speculated the wheels may have been running a little fast.
Worden told reporters he’s confident everything would work properly in the following days.
Worden stressed there is no rush to “get these bugs ironed out.”
LADEE’s rocket launch wasn’t the only one to startle animals recently. Watch the reaction of a herd of cows with the recent SpaceX Grasshopper test launch:
(H/T: The Atlantic)
The Associated Press contributed to this report.