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Last Updated: Monday May 26 2008 09:13 GMT

Amazing pictures sent from Mars

One of the Phoenix Mars Lander's legs on the surface of Mars

A spacecraft has made a dramatic landing on Mars in a mission to look for any signs of life on the planet.

The Phoenix Mars Lander blasted into orbit nine months ago and is the first spacecraft to land near the Red Planet's north pole.

There are no astronauts on board, but within hours of touching down on Sunday the Phoenix had sent its first images of the unexplored area back to Earth.

It will now dig below the surface of the planet looking for signs of life.

An artist's impression of the Phoenix probe on Mars
The spacecraft has a robotic arm to dig for water-ice, which thought to be buried beneath the surface.

Engineers and scientists at one of Nasa's labs in California clapped and cheered when they realised the Phoenix had landed safely after its 423 million mile journey.

One of the bosses of the Phoenix expedition, Barry Goldstein, said: "In my dreams, it couldn't have gone as perfectly as it did tonight."