Mars to rise in early hours

Artist’s impression of MAVEN arriving at Mars and, below, spacecraft MAVEN ready for launch. Pictures: NASA
Artist’s impression of MAVEN arriving at Mars and, below, spacecraft MAVEN ready for launch. Pictures: NASA

On Christmas Day at 4am, or earlier if you can, see if you can find Mars above the eastern horizon.

The planet looks like a red-coloured star. Brighter and yellow-coloured Saturn will be shining lower on the horizon.

On November 5, India launched its first ever interplanetary mission to the red planet.

The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) will observe the physical features of Mars and carry out a study of its atmosphere.

In the US, NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft blasted off from Earth on November 19.

This mission aims to find out if the Sun stripped Mars of most of its atmosphere, turning it into a cold and barren desert world.

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