Original PlayStation CPU is Guiding a Probe to Pluto

Posted by | July 16, 2015 | News | 2 Comments

The New Horizons spacecraft has made it to Pluto, and it used PlayStation technology to do it. Actually, it’s been in space for almost a decade, which is why it’s the original PlayStation CPU, but New Horizons has finally gotten to the dwarf planet (and sent us some incredible pictures).

Pluto

pluto

The same MIPS R3000 CPU that was used in the original PlayStation was repurposed by NASA back in 2006 to fire thrusters, monitor sensors, and transmit data from the probe back to Earth. It’s been radiation-hardened, of course. Apparently this isn’t unusual behavior for NASA. The agency prefers to use trusted—and reliable—technology rather than cutting-edge stuff that we don’t know works. I imagine it’s especially important for decades-long missions through billions of miles of space. And hey, I’m the same way. I adore my smartphone, but if I were on a deserted island for 10 years, I’d bring my old battle-hardened Nokia. (This deserted island has a phone charger, I guess.)

The probe, which is roughly the size of a piano, carries Clyde Tombaugh’s ashes;  he was the astronomer who discovered Pluto in 1930. New Horizons isn’t done with its journey, though. After exploring Pluto and its moons, it will (hopefully, with NASA’s approval) go on to gather information on the Kuiper Belt, a massive asteroid belt on the edge of our Solar System.

Source: From Quarks to Quasars

Source: From Quarks to Quasars

Keezy Young

About Keezy Young

Keezy is a gamer, illustrator, and designer. Her background is in teaching and tutoring kids from ages 9 to 19, and she's led workshops for young women in STEM. She is also holds a certificate in teaching English. Her first memory of gaming is when her dad taught her to play the first Warcraft when she was five. You can find her at Key of Zee and on Twitter @KeezyBees.