AN out-of-this-world 200ft canine crop circle has sprung up in the shadow of Jodrell Bank –a barking mad thank you to astronauts 330km above the Earth.

Ardbeg distillery mascot Shortie, a Jack Russell, has had a crop circle created in his image in a Lower Withington field as a message of thanks to the astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

The space team took delivery of the Scottish distillery's new-make spirit sample in October 2011 in order to conduct a series of experiments in zero-gravity maturation – and the Ardbeg experiment is set to return to Earth in the coming months.

Mickey Heads, Ardbeg Distillery manager, said: “We wanted to know what effect gravity can have on maturation process, so three years ago we sent up vials of Ardbeg’s new-make spirit to the International Space Station.

“The wait is nearly over with the experiment set to return to Earth in the coming months. But before the capsule leaves the space station we wanted to say thanks to the astronauts by sending them a rather special message from us here on Earth.”

The unusual portrait was designed by crop circle expert John Lundberg who, along with a team of eight circle makers, spent over ten hours creating the striking installation.