Leap for the stars! Photograph via NASA/Wallops/Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport.
Last Friday night, the Washington area got a bit of a light show when NASA launched a lunar probe
from its facility on Wallops Island, Virginia. The rocket transported the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) into orbit to begin its journey toward the moon, where it will study atmospheric particles.
But it turns out LADEE wasn’t the only thing on board. A NASA camera monitoring the Wallops Island launchpad caught an amphibious stowaway being thrown off the Minotaur V rocket that carried the probe into space.
Although it looks like a truly epic photobomb, NASA says the image is 100 percent legitimate. “Are you calling about the frog?” NASA spokesman Keith Koehler says when Washingtonian calls.
Koehler says it is unclear if the frog was flung off the fuselage or blasted into the sky when the rocket ignited. Wallops Island, which his home to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, is also a wildlife preserve, and sometimes creatures intersect with the rocketry.
“There are frogs on the island just like everywhere else,” Koehler says.
And sometimes there are frogs in the skies above.