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Last Updated: Tuesday November 11 2008 11:22 GMT

Mission to find life on Mars ends

Artist's drawing of the Phoenix lander on the arctic plains of Mars (AP Photo/NASA-JPL, Cory Waste)

Nasa says its Phoenix Mars lander mission to try and discover if life exists on Mars, has ended.

The spacecraft, which didn't have any astronauts on board, landed on the planet's northern plains in May.

It had been digging below the surface of the planet looking for signs of life, and sending back pictures to Earth.

The US space agency said it hadn't heard from the craft since 2 November, but would keep trying to contact it.

The spacecraft first landed on Mars' arctic plains five months ago.

The mission was expected to last just three months, but carried on working for more than five months.

plains of the northern polar region of Mars NASA / JPL-Caltech / University of Arizona
The craft sent back pics of the planet
Phoenix mission project manager Barry Goldstein said they were stopping the operations but were going to keep listening for any sign of the craft.

"As the orbiters fly overhead every two hours, we'll constantly turn on the radio and try to hail Phoenix to see if it is alive."