Adorable Sloth Steals the Show by Photobombing Rocket Launch

A lovable sloth named Gerard photobombed a major rocket launch in South America when he unexpectedly appeared on the livestream.

Despite only making a two-second appearance, the sloth stole the show after viewers spotted the mammal staring straight into the camera near the launch pad.

It happened during the European Space Agency’s (ESA) launch of Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, or Juice for short, on Friday April 14 in French Guiana. The agency has since named the sloth Gerard.

Sloth Photobombs Rocket Launch
Gerard the sloth near the launch of Juice.

“Aside from the actual launch, this guy is definitely the star of ESA’s Juice telecast,” wrote Dr. Nadia Drake on Twitter.

“Although we were focusing on a certain rocket and spacecraft, we tend to agree,” the ESA replied back.

The space agency confirmed that the sloth was in no danger as it was far enough away from the launch site but it moved anyway before the rocket took off — presumably extremely slowly.

“Can’t wait for the first slothronaut,” writes Johann de Graaf. “How do I place an order for my own stuffed toy of the sloth wearing an ESA uniform?” adds Nestor Zamot.

What is Juice

Last week, PetaPixel reported on the Juice spacecraft beaming back farewell selfies with Earth in situ.

Juice’s task is to look closely at Jupiter’s three icy moons: Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa. The probe has a remote sensing and geophysical instrument suite to characterize the moons that scientists suspect of harboring liquid oceans beneath the surface.

In the coming days, it will continue to deploy operational antennas and instrument booms before performing a series of gravity-assisted flybys around Earth, the Moon, and Venus as it slingshots itself toward Jupiter.

The mission will end in 2035 via a gravity-assisted collision into the surface of Ganymede.