Friday’s launch of a rocket to Jupiter was historic, but a sloth stole the show.
The animal distracted viewers waiting for liftoff, sitting in the tall grass with the rocket in the background. The European Space Agency’s spacecraft took off from French Guiana in South America, but the sloth was an immediate hit as it was spotted by viewers during the live broadcast, the Miami Herald reported.
The furry, slow-moving mammal was not aware of the launch as the JUICE rocket prepared to hurtle toward the solar system’s largest planet. It did not care, either, according to WTTG-TV.
JUICE, which stands for Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, launched from the South American nation at about 2:14 p.m. Its mission, according to the ESA, is to explore Jupiter’s environment and to dig below the surface of its moons.
According to the ESA, the spacecraft is expected to reach Jupiter by July 2031, the Herald reported.
That was irrelevant as far as the sloth was concerned, and viewers loved it.
“Aside from the actual launch, this guy is definitely the star of ESA’s JUICE telecast,” Nadia Drake, physics editor of Quanta Magazine, said in a post on the ESA’s Facebook page.
“Although we were focusing on a certain rocket and spacecraft, we tend to agree,” the ESA wrote, adding a winking emoji.
Internet users named the sloth Gérard and Jerry, according to the Herald.