THE University of Stirling is on a mission to the Moon – on foot.

With the aim of marking the 50th anniversary of the first manned mission reaching the body, the university community is aiming to collectively cover the 238,855 mile distance by walking in just 150 days.

Joe FitzPatrick - minister for public health, sport and wellbeing, joined in to take the first small steps as the mission launched this week.

The astronomical challenge is the brainchild of Professor Maggie Cusack, dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, as well as director of sport Cathy Gallagher.

Prof Cusack said: “The landing of Apollo 11 on the Moon in July 1969 was a momentous occasion – and one which, today, arguably remains humanity’s greatest-ever feat of exploration.

“Fifty years on, the world’s space agencies continue to push the boundaries in an attempt to enhance our knowledge and understanding of the universe – and we are proud that Stirling scientists are among the teams working on some of the latest major international missions.

“We wanted to mark this special anniversary with a unique event that would not only pay tribute to the success of the Apollo 11 mission, but also involve all of our staff and students.

“There’s no better way to celebrate than taking our own giant leap and walking all the way to the Moon.”

Moon champions have been selected to encourage students and staff to take the challenge on with the aim of boosting activity levels.

The minister added: “I am delighted to join staff, students and members of the wider university community to launch their ‘Walk to the Moon’.

“The Scottish Government welcomes all initiatives to improve the health of the nation by increasing levels of physical activity and we support work that champions everyday walking as the way to a happier, healthier Scotland.”