Geeks rejoice. The New Horizons spacecraft reached Pluto this week, after a very long journey. The pictures are astounding given that the best we had before made it look like some kind of gaseous and boring blob. Some of the facts behind the mission are interesting.
The chip that drives the spacecraft is basically the same as the first Playstation. That chip has now travelled 3.6 billion miles through space. If you want a visualisation of just how far that is, then go mad with this page. The original Playstation is now swinging away into the abyss at a high rate of knots. Lucky it wasn’t an XBOX and no doubt the #pcmasterrace groupies are in a dead depression.
The spacecraft went from earth to the moon in nine hours. The playstation craft was launched on top of a violent Atlas V reaching 36,000 miles per hour. It took the apollo flight three days to fly that far. This puppy (oh ho ho) was super fast.
It’s a nuclear powered Playstation, thanks to plutonium. It only generates 300 watts of power, but definitely is heralding the nuclear powered home game system.
The spacecraft got a gravity assisted boost off Jupiter, without it being pulled to pieces. It accelerated another 9,000 miles per hour and took a snapshot of a volcano erupting on Io.
In the final hour, after years of napping, the damn thing crashed and nearly broke. The spacecraft decided to restart and carried on as predicted.
It can only transmit at 1 – 2kbps. If New Horizons wanted to watch an HD movie, it would take nearly two years to download.
It is travelling onto the solar system’s biggest gravel yard, the Kuiper Belt, Pluto is considered to be the largest body in the Kuiper Belt, but we all really know it is a planet.
Part of Clyde Tombaugh is entombed in the spacecraft. No one knows which part exactly, hopefully a good bit. But hey, being fired into space takes on a whole new one upmanship when you get to fly to Pluto. Totes.
Pluto is only about 50% bigger than the moon. But hey. It’s still a planet.
Pluto is a balmy -233 to -223 Celcius.
A high resolution gallery of Pluto can be found here.
Despite the fact that we can fly a Playstation to Pluto, most IT projects fail. Figure that out.