A frog apparently startled by the launch of NASA's LADEE spacecraft was caught on camera earlier this month, effectively photobombing the moon-bound rocket.
According to NASA's Instagram account, photographer Chris Perry captured the amphibian's "one giant leap" in a single frame by a still camera on a sound trigger. The launch took place at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
A NASA representative confirmed that the photo is real and was not altered in any way.
(Story continues below)
More than one online commentator has noted the frog likely "croaked." Michael Rundle, an editor for The Huffington Post in the UK, commemorated the frog's possible passing with this tweet:
Goodnight, sweet prince. pic.twitter.com/5dZJn1Es0Y
— Michael Rundle (@michaelrundle) September 12, 2013
Universe Today speculated that the frog had stumbled upon a pool beneath the launchpad that collects water discharged by the high-volume water deluge system activated during launches. The system helps muffle the sound of launches and minimizes damage to the launchpad.
While this picture paints a less-than-stellar portrait of NASA's environmental impact, the agency hastens to note that the launch facility is located in the Wallops Island National Wildlife Refuge, most of which NASA leases to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service "for research and management of declining wildlife in special need of protection."
"During launches, short term disturbance occurs in the immediate vicinity of the launch pads, but the disturbance is short-lived allowing space launches and a wildlife habitat to coexist," NASA writes.