Trivia

Hard

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

The Dreamcast
The Nintendo 64
The Xbox
The Playstation 1

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

Very Hard

Which Video Game Series’ Protagonist Derives His Name From Iconic Sci-Fi Writers?

Trivia

Hard

The First Real Astronaut To Appear On Star Trek Was?

Trivia

Easy

Among The Many Types Of Alcohol, The Type We Drink Is?

Trivia

Hard

Which Of These Icons Of Horror Also Had A Cooking Show?

Trivia

Hard

The Country With The Highest Per Capita Tea Consumption Is?

Trivia

Very Hard

The Same Processor Used In Macintosh II Personal Computers Is Still Going Strong In Which Fighter Jet?

Trivia

Hard

What Off-The-Shelf Addition Did NASA Scientists Add To The Voyager Probes At The Last Minute?

Trivia

Hard

What Changed The Color Of Yellowstone National Park’s Morning Glory Hot Spring?

Trivia

Hard

Who Gave The Shortest Award Winning Oscar Performance?

Trivia

Hard

The First Country To Switch Completely To Polymer Banknotes Was?