Well, that was an adorable distraction.
Star of the Show
As the European Space Agency was setting up to launch a massive Ariane 5 rocket from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana, an adorable little creature could be seen enjoying some rays of sunshine not far from the rocket — before all hell broke loose, that is.
The rocket launched earlier today, carrying the ESA's JUICE spacecraft, which is destined for Jupiter's moons, into orbit.
But as scientists were busy getting the spacecraft ready for primetime, the official stream of the launch cut to an adorable little sloth, sheepishly mugging for the camera.
The charming moment, which lasted only a few seconds, drew the attention of curious onlookers on social media.
"Aside from the actual launch, this guy is definitely the star of ESA's JUICE telecast," Quantum Magazine's Nadia Drake tweeted.
"Although we were focusing on a certain rocket and spacecraft, we tend to agree," the ESA replied with a wink emoji.
Aside from the actual launch, this guy is definitely the star of @ESA's JUICE telecast. pic.twitter.com/zxAZq8gZ3I
— Dr. Nadia Drake (@nadiamdrake) April 14, 2023
While it's unclear when the footage was taken — the rocket can still be seen inside the hangar in the background — we hope the little guy was taken to a safe location before the ESA lit the candle.
It's not too surprising to see such a mammal make an appearance near the Guiana Space Center. Sloths can be found across Central and the northern half of South America.
They're also extremely vulnerable to deforestation. Two of the planet's six species of sloths are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's redlist of endangered species.
Despite their lazy demeanor, they can slash with their long claws and bite to defend themselves from predators. They also tend to prefer spending time on trees and only rarely come down, making this visit even more blessed.
This particular specimen wisely took some time to bask in the sunlight before things got loud and deeply unpleasant.
"I, for one, welcome our new space sloth overlords," SpaceNews senior writer Jeff Foust wrote.
More on the launch: Scientists Launch JUICE Mission to Distant Worlds