NASA officials in Pasadena this week officially gave up on the Phoenix Mars Lander after the little tyke went incommunicado and appeared to be damaged by ice as it succumbed to winter conditions on the red planet.

The spacecraft had already collected images of Mars and successfully completed a mission that was originally slated for three months and then extended to five, according to officials at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

“The Phoenix spacecraft succeeded in its investigations and exceeded its planned lifetime,” said Fuk Li, manager of the Mars Exploration Program at JPL. “Although its work is finished, analysis of information from Phoenix's science activities will continue for some time to come.”

Another spacecraft flew over the Phoenix 61 times last week and could not communicate with the lander. Images appeared to depict severe damage to its life-giving solar panels as the lander, first launched in 2008, languished in dark, ultra-cold conditions that it was not designed to withstand.

LA Weekly