Nasa’s Mars Odyssey orbiter has begun seeking radio transmissions from the Phoenix Mars Lander, which completed its Mars studying mission in November 2008.

The solar-powered Mars lander was in operation for five months studying an Arctic Martian site, before the seasonal ebb of sunshine ended its work.

During its operations, the robot dug up and tested Martian soil to see whether it had ever been capable of supporting life.

The lander’s hardware was not designed to survive the temperature extremes and ice-coating load of an Arctic Martian winter and Nasa says it is highly unlikely that it will receive any further signals from the lander.

However, if the system still operates, the lander would periodically try to communicate with any available Mars relay orbiters in an attempt to re-establish contact with Earth.

During each communications attempt, the lander would alternately use each of its two radios and each of its two antennas.

Odyssey will pass over the Phoenix landing site about ten times each day during three consecutive days of listening and two longer session will take place in February and March 2010.