The phenomenon of the "cat-turn" by which a cat always lands on its feet has been an enigma since the 19th century.
The French scientist/inventor, Étienne-Jules Marey, who was interested in the motion of objects, decided to use a special technique in photography, called chromatography, to solve the enigma.
He used an anonymous white French cat and dropped it from an unspecified height in the Bois de Boulogne, filming its descent at 12 frames per second. The photos show how a cat falling, even with no rotational movement at the beginning of the decline, would gain momentum while in free fall. He even published these photos, along with his research, in a volume of Comptes Rendus in 1894.
Ultimately, this brave and likely unsuspecting scientist didn't know his little experiment actually contributed to the space exploration, even though it took over 50 years for NASA's researchers, T.R. Kane and M.P. Scher, to publish their findings in a paper titled "A Dynamical Explanation of the Falling Cat Phenomenon."