Original PlayStation CPU Currently Powering the Spacecraft Floating By Pluto

By | 1 year ago 

Technology is a baffling thing. While most of us on Earth are concerned with upgrading tech for the purpose of convenience in our smartphones or gaming consoles, many organizations have spent time repurposing existing formats and the like for completely different things. Those unfamiliar with the scale in which science can push what many may have assumed to be scrap clearly haven’t been paying much attention to the ever-relevant New Horizon spacecraft.

The probe has been sending in the clearest images of Pluto ever seen by mankind as it passes by the once-planet. As fans of space exploration, and science in general, ogle over the fascinating feats of photography, it’s hard to believe that the CPU running the entire NASA spacecraft was used in the original PlayStation console.

According to the Imagination Blog (as reported on by The Verge), the CPU (officially known as the MIPS R3000 CPU) that ran such classic titles as Crash Bandicoot and Final Fantasy VII on the original Sony PlayStation has been completely reformatted to run the entirety of the New Horizon. Of course, the chip has been built to be significantly more resistant to radiation, because space is just oozing with an abundance of that stuff.

For those wondering why NASA would want to use such a dated CPU in its multi-million dollar probe, it should be noted that the tech was catapulted into space in January 2006. So since that craft has been floating around in space for over nine years, it’s understandable that the tech in it would be lagging a little behind what can be found in today’s home consoles.

New Horizon Pluto Photo

Still, NASA scientists opt to go with stability and longevity over pure power, which is why the CPU was selected for use in the mission. Some amazing photographs of the New Horizon’s passing of Pluto have been released and there are sure to be many, many more as the probe passes by the hunk of rock and begins exploring the bevy of rocks and ice found in the Kuiper belt on the furthest outskirts of our solar system.

What makes this revelation even more bizarre is that, had Nintendo and Sony partnered up for the long-documented and recently resurfaced Nintendo PlayStation, the final specs and CPU may have been entirely different – lessening the mainstream awareness of the tech and possibly setting NASA on another path. Suffice to say, the gaming industry certainly has a habit of impacting more than just where consumers spend their leisure time.

What do you think of the latest photos of Pluto? Will you be dusting off your PlayStation to rock some classic games now? Get at us in the comments.

Source: Imagination Blog (via The Verge)

Image: NASA