Torridon, Mars

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Curiosity’s tracks in Torridon on Mars

Nasa’s Mars rover Curiosity is exploring part of the planet named after Torridon in Scotland.

Martian geological areas and options have been named by Nasa after locations on Earth.

A number of of the names have been taken from Scotland and, in addition to Torridon, there’s a Siccar Level, Muck, Wick, Sandwick and Holyrood on Mars.

5 years in the past, a celebration was held when Curiosity reached an space known as Glenelg.

Nasa selected the title Torridon as a result of Torridonian Supergroup, a geological formation within the north west Highlands that comprises among the oldest proof of lifetime of any rocks within the UK.

Prof John Bridges, of the College of Leicester and a taking part scientist on the Mars Science Laboratory Mission, stated the Purple Planet had been divided up into quadrangles by scientists learning it.

Curiosity is scheduled to spend a yr exploring the Torridon quadrangle.

Prof Bridges instructed BBC Alba: “The group thought it acceptable to have a Scottish quadrangle as a result of Scotland is the actually the birthplace of geology.

“Torridon has this purple sandstone known as the Torridonian that are the oldest sediments within the UK, and they’re a fantastic analogue for what we’re seeing on Mars.”

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SAIS Torridon

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The mountains of Torridon on Earth

Geological options on the planet, resembling rocky outcrops, have additionally been given Scottish names.

These embody Yell and Sandness in Shetland, Coll, Arran, Oban and in addition Siccar Level on the Berwickshire coast, an space of geology studied by Edinburgh-born 18th Century geologist James Hutton.

Talisker and Laphroaig, the names of two Scottish whiskies, have additionally been used.

One other of the options has been known as Stonehaven, where there is a chip shop that claims to be the birthplace of the deep-fried Mars bar.

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NASA/JPL/UA/Phil Stooke

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A map displaying Scottish place names on Mars

In October 2012, the small Scottish group of Glenelg within the west Highlands marked Curiosity’s arrival at its namesake on the Purple Planet with a ceilidh.

Friends on the occasion included former astronaut Bonnie Dunbar and Scotland’s Astronomer Royal, Prof John Brown.

Ms Dunbar flew on 5 house shuttle missions within the 1980s and 1990s on Challenger and Columbia.

In 1995, she flew within the first shuttle mission to dock with the Russian House Station Mir. Three years later, she flew within the final mission to ship a US astronaut to Mir.

Ms Dunbar’s paternal grandparents got here from Scotland. Her grandfather Charles Dunbar was born in Dundee and her grandmother Mary was born near Gardenstown, close to Banff.