Did Frogstronaut Survive? Astronomer Ponders Nasa Photobomb Frog's Chances (PICTURES)


When we published our account of the heroic last moments of Frogstronaut, the amphibian spectacularly startled by the launch of Nasa's LADEE space craft and caught on camera in a frankly superb photobomb, we assumed there was no way he could have survived.

Despite Nasa's objectively balanced statement on the matter ("The condition of the frog is uncertain") we felt like they were really just trying to protect us from the cold reality of the world.

That - we thought - is one dead frog.

Well now it turns out that there might - just might - be reason to hope. Or at least, there's at least one more person out there who isn't so sure that Frogstronaut was obliterated by the launch.

We've received a missive from one Deborah Levine, who is an adjunct faculty member in Astronomy at Glendale Community College in California, who says that depending on his distance from the rocket there's a chance our little frog made it.

She writes:

"The media seems awfully keen to write off the frog. I decided this was a good example of the relationship between angular size and distance for my intro to Astronomy class.

"With a back of the envelope calculation, I don't see the frog being any closer to the launch pad than 1/10 the distance from the camera to the launchpad, and possibly no closer than 1/100th that distance.

"I don't know how far from the pad the camera was, but I'd guess a kilometer or so. So unless that's Frogzilla, I think there is reason to be optimistic about his survival."

We're not quite so sure - the calculation depends on the frog being pretty far from the launch pad, and since LADEE was launched atop a Minotaur V, which is 24.5 metres high - or roughly half the size of some Nasa rockets - it's not clear that the frog was far enough away.

Still, it's hope. It's a chance.

Maybe somewhere in Virginia there's a very bruised, very singed frog who needs to get out of the way right now - since there's another launch coming in four days time.

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