An unlucky frog caught in a NASA launch on September 6, 2013. Credit NASA/Wallops/Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport
Yes, that’s a real frog, and a real NASA launch, and no, the photo wasn’t retouched.
This is NASA’s LADEE heading to the moon “to gather detailed information about the lunar atmosphere, conditions near the surface and environmental influences on lunar dust.” The automatic cameras caught this image at the launch Pad 0B at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.” For real.
So what’s with the frog?
Well, the launch pad gets deluged with water on take off, to protect it, and there’s a big pool of water to do that. It’s also in the middle of a wildlife refuge, since rocket launches aren’t very frequent. So the poor frog presumably found a spot that was comfortable and damp – at the time.
Actually, I think the frog must have been much closer to the camera than the rocket, perhaps just 7 m up.
As NASA says, “The condition of the frog, however, is uncertain.”
Mars has two moons, Demios is very small – only about 12 km in diameter, and orbits in 30 hours. But since a Martian day is 24 hours, 39 minutes long, Demios isn’t much above synchronous orbit, and it takes 2.7 days to rise in the east and set in the west. From the equator of Mars, it looks about as big as the planet Venus does from Earth.
Phobos isn’t much bigger at about 22 km in diameter. But the fun part is that it has a very close orbit – just 6,400 km above the Martian equator, so close that from the north or south poles it’s below the horizon, and where you can see it, it looks noticeably bigger overhead than down at the horizon. At its biggest, it looks about one third as big as the Earth’s full moon from Earth. Here’s the fun part – Phobos orbits Mars in 7 hours and 40 minutes, while the Martian day is 24 hours, 39 minutes. So the surface of Mars moves faster than Phobos, and Phobos appears to rise in the west, grow as it climbs to the zenith, then shrink and set in the east.
Both moons are chocolate coloured, and probably captured asteroids.
This video was taken by NASA’s Curiosity rover, from Gale Crater on August 1st.
“From its perch in the Saturn system, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft took pictures of Earth from nearly 900 million miles (nearly 1.5 billion kilometers) today. To celebrate the first time the public has had advance notice that Earth’s portrait was being taken from interplanetary distances, scientists and engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and other Earthlings elsewhere gathered to wave at Saturn on July 19. Cassini took pictures of Earth between 2:27 and 2:42 p.m. PDT today.
The Earth images are part of a larger mosaic of the Saturn system that Cassini is taking while in Saturn’s shadow. The mosaic will help scientists learn more about the fainter rings encircling Saturn.
The processing of the Earth image is expected to take a few days, and processing of the full Saturn system mosaic will likely take several weeks.”
Jupiter’s Great Red Spot photographed by Voyager 1
Jupiter’s Great Red Spot was discovered by the English scientist Robert Hooke in 17th century. It lies very close to the giant planet’s equator and its major axis is 40,000 km (twice the diameter of the Earth. We now know that it’s a hurricane, which rotates anticlockwise with wind speeds around the edge of up to 400 km / sec.
Saturn and its rings. The sun is behind the planet.
Where to find the Earth in the main photo
This wonderful photo of Saturn was taken by NASA’s Cassini mission on Sept. 15, 2006. The sun is behind the planet, giving a wonderful view of the rings. Even more spectacular, you can just see the Earth at the left.