Holiday calendar: Farewell, Earth ... Hello, Mars!

The Mars Color Camera for India's Mars Orbiter Mission, also known as Mangalyaan, captures an image of Africa, Arabia, India and other parts of Asia on Nov. 19 during its Earth-orbiting phase, from an altitude of almost 43,500 miles (70,000 kilometers). ISRO

India's first interplanetary space probe is on its way to Mars, but before it headed out into deep space, it took a snapshot of the place where it was born — along with lots of other places on Earth.

This Nov. 19 picture from the Mars Orbiter Mission, also known as Mangalyaan, serves as a timely kickoff for our Cosmic Log Space Advent Calendar, which highlights views of Earth from space. Every day, from now until Christmas, there'll be a fresh look at our planet. The online tradition is a spin-off from the classic Advent calendar, which lets kids open a door for each day on the calendar from Dec. 1 to 25 — and find a treat inside. For more holiday goodies, check out Zooniverse's Advent calendar, the Galileo's Pendulum Science Advent Calendar and our Month in Space slideshow for November.

Still more goodies from space:

Alan Boyle is's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the NBC News Science Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google+ presence. To keep up with's stories about science and space, sign up for the Tech & Science newsletter, delivered to your email in-box every weekday. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.