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From lily pad to launch pad: Frog photobombs NASA launch

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The image was captured by remote observation cameras of the launch, an official confirmed. (Source: NASA) The image was captured by remote observation cameras of the launch, an official confirmed. (Source: NASA)
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(RNN) - Who says only humans can be astronauts? A frog made one giant leap for amphibian kind and photobombed a NASA rocket launch, skyrocketing into the air as the rocket's tanks fired up.

NASA confirmed that the picture of what appears to be a frog was altered in no way and was taken by a remote observation camera at the Wallops/Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, which is located in the Wallops Island National Wildlife Refuge.

The launch of the rocket was for NASA mission LADEE, short for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer. According to NASA, it's a "robotic mission on its way to orbit the moon to gather detailed information about the lunar atmosphere, conditions near the surface and environmental influences on lunar dust."

NASA said the satellite launched successfully and "everything looks good" so far.

The same can't be said for the amphibian in the picture, which no one knows for sure what happened to. Unfortunately it's pretty easy to guess.

As for how the frog got there in the first place, you need to know a little bit about the process of launching rockets. Launches of space-bound objects and vehicles are generally dampened with a torrential amount of water which is poured over the launch pad into pools below the rocket to prevent damage to the pad and provide some noise suppression.

This means that the launch pad's pool may have held some water while it was not in use, which the frog could have settled in.

This isn't the first time an animal has taken flight with NASA, which has had several incidents with unintended animal hitchhikers.

Most notably in 2009, a bat hung onto the side of space shuttle Discovery's external fuel tank, clinging to the insulation. NASA officials had hoped it would take off before launch, but it resolutely held on and was last seen hurling through the atmosphere along with its ride.

While the frog never made it quite that high, we hope he enjoyed his sudden yet brief launch into the sky.

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