It is common for a village or town in one country to twin itself with a village or town in another country, and where the two connected communities have the same name the activity is perhaps more interesting. Up until now, no official connection has included a different planet.
The date for the 'village' twinning comes as NASA's Curiosity
heads for a geological feature called Glenelg
. The region is named, as are most of the recent features on Mars which appear on the robotic probes route, after regions in Canada's Northwest Territories. It also happens that Glenelg is the name of a Scottish village
, a community longer established than the area in Canada.
Glenelg is located in Ross-shire in the west Highlands. The village can be found by the Kyle Rhea narrows, where the Isle of Skye is closest to the mainland. It has a population of around 300 and many of the buildings date back to the early eighteenth century. The local population had the idea to mark the progress of the Mars rover with an event
designed to raise the profile of their village.
According to the BBC
, preparations for the twinning ceremony in the Scottish village include dancing and a visit by former NASA astronaut Bonnie Dunbar, who was part of the Challenger and Columbia space shuttle missions. The reason for Dunbar's visit is not just space travel for she also has Scottish ancestors.
Many village and town twinning events have the added bonus of exchange visits. It is not certain when a representative from Glenelg will ever set foot on Mars.