Sloth distracts viewers during ESA’s Juice mission to Jupiter

The European Space Agency (ESA) launched a rocket to Jupiter on Friday – but some viewers had their eyes on something entirely different: a sloth.

During ESA’s live launch coverage, the furry slow-moving animal was spotted. 

"Aside from the actual launch, this guy is definitely the star of ESA's Juice telecast," Dr. Nadia Drake of Quanta Magazine, said.

The ESA replied to her comment in a social media post, writing, "Although we were focusing on a certain rocket and spacecraft, we tend to agree," adding a wink emoji. 


Sloth is caught on camera during rocket launch to Jupiter on April 14. (Credit: ESA/N.Drake/GérardTheSloth)

Footage of the launch also showed Juice, short for the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, blasting off on an Ariane 5 rocket from the ESA’s spaceport in French Guiana.

"ESA, with its international partners, is on its way to Jupiter," ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher said in a statement Friday." Juice’s spectacular launch carries with it the vision and ambition of those who conceived the mission decades ago, the skill and passion of everyone who has built this incredible machine, the drive of our flight operations team, and the curiosity of the global science community. Together, we will keep pushing the boundaries of science and exploration in order to answer humankind’s biggest questions."

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Over the next two-and-half weeks, ESA said Juice will deploy its various antennas and instrument booms that will study the environment of Jupiter and the subsurface of the icy moons.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.