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On Thursday, August 7, engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, sent a radio command to NASA's Viking Orbiter 1 that switched off its transmitter and ended the spacecraft's 4-year mission in orbit around Mars.

Kermit Watkins, Viking project manager, said the orbiter was shut down because its attitude control gas was expected to be depleted before it completed its next orbit of Mars. ‘By sending the turn-off command,’ Watkins said, ‘instead of allowing it to occur automatically on the spacecraft, we will be sure that the radio transmitter has been shut off.’