The European Space Agency says it is abandoning efforts to contact an unmanned Russian space probe that failed to reach its intended course to Mars.
The agency issued a statement Friday saying that it is halting attempts to contact the probe which has been stranded in Earth orbit since its November 9 launch. The spacecraft was on a mission to reach Mars’ moon Phobos in 2013 and bring back samples of its soil.
Efforts by Russian and international space technicians to send commands that could propel it toward its destination have been unsuccessful.
European Space Agency flight technicians at a facility in Perth, Australia detected a signal from the unmanned probe November 23. The U.S. space agency, NASA, has also been helping with efforts to communicate with the spacecraft.
The Russian space agency says it is not likely the spacecraft can go to Mars, but keeping in contact would help engineers understand why it is malfunctioning and try to prevent it from crashing back to Earth.
The Phobos mission was the Russian space program’s first attempt to reach Mars in 15 years following a series of failed efforts in the 1980s and 1990s.