THE NAMES of a family of Lochaber ospreys are etched on the Perseverance Rover currently on the surface of Mars, it has emerged.

It came after NASA invited the public to submit names to fly aboard the mission to Mars.

And it caught the eye of Linda Keene of Cumbernauld, who is a fan of the osprey family that are resident at Scotland's Loch Arkaig Pine Forest near Fort William.

The family became famous in 2019, when livestreams of Louis and Aila raising their chicks Mallie and Rannoch went worldwide.

Ms Keene put the names of the four ospreys forward to Nasa and received a boarding pass for the flight.

George Anderson, of Woodland Trust Scotland, said: “The Loch Arkaig ospreys became very famous last year when they became a lockdown hit with people stuck at home desperate to connect with nature.

“We never thought their fame would stretch as far away as another planet though.

“We are very touched that Linda has celebrated the birds in this way.”

The 2019 osprey cam highights

The mission blasted off in summer 2020 and in the last few days the Perseverance Rover has reached the surface of Mars with the osprey names among those etched on special chips.

Nasa has released images, audio and video the rover took on the Martian surface.

A panoramic image of the planet from the landing site shows the red rocky surface with mountains and a delta visible in the distance.

The rover’s microphone captured a gust of wind on the red planet, and the sounds of Perseverance itself, the first sound recordings from Mars.

The movies also cover the final minutes of last week's hair-raising descent, up to the point where the robot's wheels make contact with the ground.

The sequences show a whirl of dust and grit being kicked up as the vehicle is lowered by its rocket backpack to the floor of Jezero Crater.

Perseverance was sent to Mars festooned with cameras, seven of which were dedicated to recording the landing.

READ MORE: Mars rover: 'Stunning' images from Red planet received

Their imagery represents vital feedback for engineers as they look to improve still further the technologies used to put probes on the surface of the Red planet.

Perseverance Rover’s Descent and Touchdown on Mars

When the Woodland Trust nest camera first went live in 2017 a young male bird took up residence on the nest and began waiting for a suitable mate. He was on his own for three weeks, so the charity's staff nicknamed him Lonesome Louis. When a female finally did pair up with him they dropped the Lonesome.

Louis and Aila raised their first chick, Lachlan in 2017.

In 2018 the nest failed after a pine marten raided the eggs, but had Mallie and Rannoch the following year.

And tens of thousands of wildlife enthusiasts from around the world tuned in to watch the daily lives of the famous family of ospreys unfold via webcam. During the 2019 season the charity asked camera viewers for suggestions to name the two chicks and put them to a vote.

Some 62,000 fans were glued to their screens as adult birds Louis and Aila successfully raised the chicks.

One chick was named Mallie after Glen Mallie where the nest is located. The other was named Rannoch to honour volunteer Liz Bracken who lives at Loch Arkaig. There had already been an osprey elsewhere named Bracken, so the charity used the Gaelic equivalent.

Rather than looking in just once on the family, the majority of viewers returned multiple times over the season, the conservation charity said. Most viewers were located in the UK but thousands of sessions were logged in countries including Norway, the US and Australia.

The Scottish ospreys migrate to the wetlands and estuaries of West African countries such as Senegal and Gambia, but birds seem to be increasingly spending time in Spain and Portugal too. One chick which fledged from the nest at the west end of Loch Arkaig settled in Spain before unfortunately dying on a faulty power line.

Ospreys migrate individually. Aila tends to leave first, while Louis will wait until the chicks have all left before setting off himself.

Louis and Aila do not meet up again until the following year at the nest. The chicks do not intentionally meet up again with each other or their parents.

During the 2020 season 10,000 people voted to name the chicks in honour of figures in the news during the year. Doddie was named after Doddie Weir and Vera was named for Dame Vera Lynn; and Captain for Captain Tom Moore.

The Woodland Trust say the hope to see Louis and Aila back at Loch Arkaig in April 2021 for their fifth season on the nest. The nest camera livestream will be switched on next month.

Louis and Aila are the only members of the charity's osprey family whose gender they can be sure of are Louis and Aila. Based on various measurements taken when they were ringed they can estimate that Lachlan, Doddie and Captain are male, and that Mallie, Rannoch and Vera are female.

According to the Woodland Trust, they will only know for sure if they are observed nesting in future.