A frog photobombed the launch of NASA's new moon probe, Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, or LADEE, on Sept. 6. The incredible image has been confirmed as authentic and has gone viral.
LADEE launched from Wallops Flight Facility, Va., around 11:27 p.m. and as the Minotaur V rockets ignited, a frog was sent into the air. Universe Today speculates the frog may have once called the area around the launchpad home and NASA notes on Instagram the Wallops Flight Facility shares the island with the Wallops Island National Wildlife Refuge, created in 1975. According to NASA, "The wildlife refuge contains habitat for a variety of species, including upland- and wetland-dependent migratory birds. Additionally, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has an agreement with NASA to use the NASA-owned portion of Wallops Island for research and management of declining wildlife in special need of protection."
The space agency notes the launchpad and facility take up only a small portion of the island and the rest of the island is undeveloped. "During launches, short-term disturbance occurs in the immediate vicinity of the launchpads, but the disturbance is short-lived, allowing space launches and a wildlife habitat to coexist," said NASA.
Of course, every once in awhile, an animal will cross paths with a launch, notes Universe Today. NASA confirmed the authenticity of the frog photobomb but could not confirm the frog's well-being. Said NASA on Instagram, "The condition of the frog... is uncertain."