Frog Photobombs NASA Launch Photo


Check out this photograph NASA captured recently during the launch of its LADEE spacecraft. Notice anything unusual? If you’re thinking that the strange dark spot seen in the middle of the smoke plume looks familiar, you’re right — that’s a frog.

Here’s the original, uncropped version of the photo:


It was captured on September 7, 2013 during the launch of the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft. The craft will enter orbit around the Moon’s equator in order to study the exosphere and dust particles in the area.

The photograph itself was captured using a sound trigger that was set to detect when the launch sequence started. The NASA photo team has confirmed that the frog in the frame is in fact real, and states that it was captured in just one of the photos produced by the remote cameras active at the scene of the launch.

Here’s a closer crop showing our little amphibious friend:


It’s a one-of-a-kind photograph. “The condition of the frog, however, is uncertain,” NASA says.

Image credit: Photograph by NASA/Wallops Flight Facility/Chris Perry

  • Sergei Zhukov

    Leaping into space:)))

  • bayek

    “Hi Ho! Kermit the Frog here!”

  • kingkool68

    Just as good as when a NASA rocket hit a bird

  • twig

    One giant leap for frogkind!

  • Elizabeth Ouma

    there is no possible way. that is clearly false. look at the size of the frog as opposed to other objects in the picture. That frog would have to be twice the size of a human unless it was like 20 feet from the camera which would be unlikely considering the placement and trigger mechanism of this camera

  • Zack Deal

    I don’t think that’s a frog, it’s entirely too big. However, it does look like a huge piece of debris that is shaped like a frog.

  • MarvinB7

    So, the other small bits in the photo are…. 2×4 studs? Comparing to the man-sized frog.

  • Thomas Hirschberg

    i must go, my people need me

  • Burnin Biomass

    The Blair Frog Project

  • Someone Somewhere

    There has to be a witty French joke in there somewhere.

  • Elizabeth Ouma

    more like dust on or micrometers away from the lens. Wheras a frog wouldn’t be. lQQk all I am saying is that the dimensions appear suspicious. Everyone is so quick to accept what they see in a photograph as veritus. I just wish people would question and analyze things a little more instead of propagating something because it lQQks cool/cute/fun.

  • Gomer Pyle

    I agree. That frog is twice the size of a human, and all the other debris in that picture must small trees instead of the grass and weeds that it appears to be. It’s a frogspiracy, call Alex Jones.

  • Chuck Fitzgerald

    Being it is a remote camera set up in a harsh environment, I would bet this was taken with a rather large telephoto lens. Any photographer knows that large telephoto lenses compress the perspective. The frog is closer to the lens which gives the illusion that it is bigger compared to the rocket which is much further away. The rocket is the focus point and is clear and sharp, froggie is blurred, partially from movement and partially from being closer than the focus point. Very neat shot!

  • Scott M.

    Both frog hands are in the classic surrender position…

  • ramanauskas

    Reflexive skepticism makes you stupid.

  • Robin

    Actually, I’d say it was shot with a wide-angle somewhere low in the grass. Notice the perspective and converging lines of the launch pad.

  • Christian DeBaun

    1) Mintoaur rocket.

    2) 361,000 pounds of thrust.

    3) They flood the pad with water a few hours before the launch to cool the pad, and test the water-flood system.

    4) Frogs like water.

    5) At launch they FLOOD the pad with thousands of gallons of water.

    6) Frog is hit with 361k shock wave.

    Thank you, that will be all.

  • Chuck Fitzgerald

    Agree with the low placement of the camera, but will stick to the tele
    if for no other reason than a camera with a wide angle lens would have
    had to be much closer to the subject. With the force of the rocket blast
    I would think the camera would be sailing alongside the frog. I would
    hope that even NASA would not purposely destroy a camera just to get one picture.

  • Chuck Fitzgerald


  • Robin

    Are you looking at the uncropped pic? I’d say that’s a typical wide-angle perspective :P From far away the launch pad would have straight lines, not skewed like this.

  • Eugene Chok

    i was thinking NASA is going to get a call from PETA, as they forget about the thousands of bugs and small animals that die to harvest their vegan treats

  • Barry Moss

    Boldly going where no frog has gone before!

  • Chuck Fitzgerald

    Yes, I am looking at all 3 shots and I agree with you on the typical wide angle skew. I shot with only a wide angle lens for over a year and a half. One building here has a tall observation tower and I fought to get straight shots from low angles. I have shot the same building with my 300mm recently from a low angle and experienced the same although not as much. I use a level on my camera and have had to adjust my tripod to an unlevel skew to get the photo to look right. Plus the fact of having to be pretty close to the rocket even with a 28mm to fill the frame (the uncropped shot is pretty full frame) and I believe this camera would have been toast. Either way it is a neat luck shot for all except the frog. Thanks for the discussion Robin. I’ll stick to my story as it fits my experience. Happy shooting to you.

  • Brian Lowe

    NASA are adding garlic and butter to the propellant and hope to have a perfect recipe in about 5 launches to fund further expeditions. The new brand maybe La NASA Frogettes. Billions of dollars are being invested in how to inject potato fries to cook simultaneously. Liquid Oxygen already available is the preferred coolent for soda. For the drive through all customers must wear full flame retardant suits.

  • tomdavidsonjr

    “Reflexive skepticism makes you stupid”. Quite possibly the best one-liner ever written. Consider it stolen… :)

  • Elizabeth Ouma

    Assuming it’s reflexive makes you sound naïvely asinine

  • Elizabeth Ouma

    It’s an insect, closer to the lens, that appears to lQQk like a frog. The shadow of a Halyomorpha halys would give the impression of frog in shadow

  • harumph

    Please stop. You’re being ridiculous. Healthy skepticism is a good thing, but unhealthy skepticism about everything will make you a miserable person. Doubting every little wonder you come across is no way to go through life.

  • Elizabeth Ouma

    Humanity never ceases to amaze me. To think you know me and can judge an intrinsic personality trait from ONE skeptical comment on a single photograph is quite a large demonstration of hubris. Dial it back a few thousand notches, get a grip, take a deep breath and realise in the overall scheme of my universe your opinion matters less to me than the sum total of syllables it takes to express the sentiment. Sheesh some people take themselves way to seriously and think their opinions actually count AND matter…. CTFU SMH

  • Andy

    I can’t tell if you’re real or a troll. I hope you’re a troll, for your sake.

  • Elizabeth Ouma

    I assess the value of this my time in taking place in this pointless argument with a group of lemurs to have been a pitiful waste of intellectual energy and valuable sleeping time. The more I “troll“ the more I see the sad devolution of human society around the civilized world. What a pitiful shame. I think iv will stick with my infinitesimal circle. Much more awe inspiring and intellectually stimulating. You all continue your armchair travels while I resume my pedestrian adventures. But thank you for the chance to exercise my creative writing after a long hiatus.

  • Scott M.

    She seems real. What troll would use that photo?

  • kassim

    R.I.P anonymous frog.

  • Andy Hardin

    What about this picture makes you so sure it’s faked and what possible reason would anyone have to fake a frog in a picture?

  • Graf Almassy

    Heave you ever heard about “perspectice distortion”? This shot was clearly taken with wide angle lens.

  • DP

    There’s substantial zoom in this photo, due to the exhaust velocity, heat, and volume this camera is quite far away. The ‘other stuff’ is likely grass and debris from the nearby open field. A deflection pit under the launchpad deflects exhaust so it travels parallel to the ground. This blast is easily capable of kicking up pieces of sod, debris, and apparently animals. Not surprising at all.

    To the skeptics, what does NASA gain by photoshopping a frog into this photo? All it does is get a few chuckles and open themselves up to PETA accusations. They wouldn’t go to the trouble for extra attention right now, especially with the Voyager 1 news. The risk of bad PR from the false photo being discovered far outways the need to fake the photo in the first place.

  • DP

    Elizabeth Ouma: “To think you know me and can judge an intrinsic personality trait from ONE skeptical comment”… “argument with a group of lemurs”

    At the beginning of the thread I almost respected you for bringing it to the community’s attention that photos are not necessarily unmodified, but now it seems you just want to take whatever viewpoint seems controversial among the group for kicks. You’re immature, and I hope sometime in the future you develop your own beliefs rather than hoping to gain the attention of strangers by starting conflicts. To accuse others of making judgements then calling those same people a group of lemurs is ridiculous. Insults veiled in artistically-chosen English words doesn’t make you more correct than anyone else here.

    “Humanity never ceases to amaze me”? You’ve got that right.

  • Dhaval Panchal

    I’m inclined to agree. It makes (logical) sense that this is the shadow of a flying beetle/insect than a frog… How would a frog get to such a position? It does look like a frog, however, equally it also looks like the silhouette of a flying bug of sorts.

  • GeneBuddyMaxwell

    They didn’t photoshop anything. It is just plain and simple debris that looks like a frog to some people. To religious fanatics, it would probably look like Jesus Christ. To me it looks like debris. A frog that close to the blast would be too small to see, even on a zoom crop.

  • GeneBuddyMaxwell

    OMG! That’s Bigfoot!

  • Caithlin Mercer

    Could be worse. Coulda been Miss Piggy.

  • Caithlin Mercer

    (RIP, Kermet.)

  • Andy Hardin

    Are you kidding me? The frog, along with all the other debris, was blow there by the exhaust of the engine. Surely you don’t think the frog has super-amphibian strength and was jumping out of the way, do you? That frog never saw it coming. I baffled by people’s inability to take this picture at face value. It’s clearly a frog.

  • Andy Hardin

    I’m really amazed at some of the response on here. Debris that looks like a frog, shadow of a bug that looks like a frog, the frog is huge, etc. This is clearly (at least to most of us) exactly what it seems, a frog. Wallops is on the Atlantic seacoast and is a wetland (i.e. a good habitat for frogs), and maybe you’ve only ever seen the cute little frogs but there are some really BIG toads/frogs (check out the marine toad, 12″ or so stretched out), or maybe you think the Mintoaur V rocket is really big but it’s only ~80 feet tall. Whatever the case may be you clearly don’t have a clue about perspective (which is sad given that you are on a photography site) and why it is completely reasonable for that to be a real toad/frog and how completely preposterous it is that this is some other object that looks exactly like a frog.

  • Dhaval Panchal

    My point was that the frog wouldn’t be able to get to that height/position. If it was a frog that is.

  • harumph

    How do you think the grass, twigs and other debris got to that height/position?

  • Dhaval Panchal

    they weigh a lot less and are a lot less dense, so can be thrown by air, much like straw.

  • harumph

    The blast from a rocket launch would probably toss YOU around if you stood under it. It’s silly to think that it couldn’t send a frog flying through the air.

  • 9inchnail

    Bad news for NASA, PETA is gonna shut you down.