Glenelg celebrates twinning with Mars

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CELEBRATIONS have been held in a Highland village that has been twinned with its namesake on Mars.

Residents of Glenelg in the north-west hosted a day of events to mark the journey of the remote-controlled Nasa Curiosity rover, which is on its way to Glenelg on the Red Planet.

The palindromic village, which has a population of about 300 people, attracted crowds of up to 400 at its official twinning ceremony yesterday, at which a plaque was unveiled by former Nasa astronaut Bonnie Dunbar, declaring: “Glenelg – Twinned with Mars.”

Dunbar, a veteran of five space flights, flew in from the United States specially to attend the event.

Yesterday’s Space, Stars and Mars celebration featured a range of space-themed events, including the chance to drive a “Mars Rover” around a simulated Martian landscape in the school hall, a ceilidh and a stargazing event.

Doug McCuistion, director of the Nasa Mars exploration programme, gave a presentation over Skype, which was shown on a screen in the village hall.

Other speakers included Scotland’s Astronomer Royal, Professor John C Brown.

The event was the brainchild of Emma MacLean, 32, development officer for Glenelg and Arnisdale Development Trust, who was inspired by a newspaper article about the Nasa rover heading for Glenelg on Mars.

She said: “I contacted Nasa a few weeks ago when I had the idea and since then it’s just gone exactly to plan. It was fantastic to have Bonnie here, she is such an inspirational woman.

“Today’s events have attracted huge crowds. There was standing room only in the marquee. I think the whole village has turned out, as well as guests and people from the surrounding area.”