Did ‘Photobomb’ Frog Launch a NASA Lunar Probe?

A frog “shoots” a shot of the launch of NASA’s Minotaur V rocket carrying a lunar probe into space in 2013.

reality check

It’s not every day that an airborne amphibian accidentally “photobomb” a photo of a NASA space launch, but we can confirm that it happened at least once in the history of American space missions, and there is a photo to prove it.

The date was September 6, 2013, and the place was NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia, and release It was a US Air Force Minotaur V spacecraft carrying NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE).

According to NASA, the unique image was captured by a sound-activated camera just after the moment of liftoff. This is what the camera recorded:

NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility / Chris Perry

The airborne frog can be seen in the upper left quadrant of the image. Here zoom:

frog and missile
NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility / Chris Perry

Photographer Chris Perry who created the camera He told NBC News: The frog was probably about 50 feet away from the camera location, while the missile was at least 150 feet away, hence the frog looks larger than it actually was. “Our photo archive contains launch sequence images from every launch, and nothing I’ve seen so far has shown us anything like this before,” Perry was quoted by NBC as saying. “It certainly surprised us (and a bit sad).”

NASA Later post the photo On his website (albeit with a wrong date) along with the comment: “The filming team confirms that the frog is real and was captured in one frame by one of the remote cameras used to film the launch. However, the condition of the frog is uncertain.”

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DeMargo, Karissa. “A frog explodes in the air during a missile launch.” NBC4 Washington, https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/reports-frog-caught-in-va-rocket-launch/1953276/. Accessed September 2, 2022.

Garner, Rob. “LADEE TAKE OFF!: The Journey Begins.” NASA, April 16, 2015, http://www.nasa.gov/content/ladee-liftoff-the-journey-begins.

“LADEE Frog Photobomb.” NASA Solar System Exploration, https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/resources/270/ladee-frog-photobomb. Accessed September 2, 2022.

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