Trivia

Hard

NASA’s New Horizons Probe Shares A CPU With Which Of These Consoles?

The Dreamcast
The Nintendo 64
The Playstation 1
The Xbox

Answer: The PlayStation 1

When New Horizons launched in 2006 as part of NASA’s New Frontiers program, it carried with it an array of scientific equipment, enough fuel to get it to the edges of the solar system and beyond, and the heart of a champion.

OK, we’ll admit, that last bit is perhaps a bit of poetic hyperbole, but the New Horizons probe runs on a radiation-hardened version of the MIPS R3000 CPU which is—and here’s where the heart of a champion bit comes into play—the same CPU that powered the iconic and best selling PlayStation 1 (and PlayStation 2) game console.

Why build the computing core of a super expensive interplanetary probe around a processor designed back in the late 1980s and best known for its role in the guts of a 1990s-era video game console? NASA has never valued speed and power over stability, and while the MIPS R3000 was far from cutting edge at the time the probe was designed and launched, it had it where it counted: it was time tested, stable, and easy to harden and run redundant systems for. After all, if a decade old, $20 garage sale PlayStation 1 still spun up like the day it was purchased, it might just be hardy enough for the depths of space.

Finally, a bit of nostalgic bonus trivia: the year NASA launched New Horizons is the year Sony officially discontinued the PlayStation 1. Although it’s certainly not the case, we’d like to pretend that Sony stayed the insertion of the last chip in the last PlayStation 1 unit before sending it to NASA so that the chip could see the universe.

Trivia

Hard

What Was The First Volunteer Distributed Computing Project?

Trivia

Hard

The Special Effects In Which Of These 1990s Films Inspired A Whole New Era Of Film Making?

Trivia

Hard

A Group Of Off-The-Shelf Computers Run In Parallel As A Super Computer Is Called A?

Trivia

Hard

Sylvester Stallone Once Starred In A Buddy Cop Movie With Which Of The Golden Girls?

Trivia

Hard

What Product Was The First To Be Advertised Into Deep Space?

Trivia

Hard

Researchers Analyzing Social Media Trends Have Declared Which Day Of The Week Most Depressing?

Trivia

Very Hard

The Most Widely Used Method Of Scheduling Syndicated Television Is Called?

Trivia

Hard

Snow Isn’t Always White; In The Sierra Nevada Mountains Snow Is Sometimes?

Trivia

Easy

Which Of These Heart Medications Got Its Start As A Rat Poison?

Trivia

Hard

Which Astronomer Is Currently En Route To The Planet He Discovered?