Defining Pluto as a planet again!

A group of scientists are lobbying to restore Pluto's planetary status

All the authors are science team members on the New Horizons mission to Pluto, operated for NASA by the John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

The debate of whether Pluto is a planet or not has caught fire again with an astronomer from Johns Hopkins University gunning for Pluto so as to reinstate its lost planetary status.

Six scientists from institutions across the United States argued that Pluto deserves to be a full planet, along with some 110 other bodies in the solar system, including Earth's moon.

Kirby Runyon, a scientist at Johns Hopkins University in the U.S., says Pluto, along with more than 100 celestial bodies in the solar system, including the moons of Jupiter and Earth, should be awarded the (coveted) planet status.

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"There is nothing non-planet about it", Runyon said. Much as Runyon and his group would want to reinstate Pluto as a planet, DeGrasse Tyson, however, has this to say about the celestial body's demotion, "Pluto had it coming". This small size eventually led the IAU to demote Pluto in 2006, but Runyon says it shouldn't have been the case - Pluto "has everything going on on its surface that you associate with a planet". "In the decade following the supposed "demotion" of Pluto by the [IAU], many members of the public, in our experience, assume that alleged "non-planets" cease to be interesting enough to warrant scientific exploration, though the IAU did not intend this effect", wrote Stern. Pluto was smallest of the nine planets and its diameter being under three-quarters of the moon and approximately a fifth of the Earth.

It is the third criteria that made Pluto unfit to be termed as a planet. If that definition were to change it might include Pluto but also over a hundred new bodies that could fit the description including Earth's own moon.

Runyon and his co-authors are all associated with NASA's New Horizons mission, which returned the first high-quality images of Pluto in 2015 after a close flyby as the spacecraft continued toward the Kuiper Belt. Keeping these requirements in mind, Pluto was demoted to a dwarf planet because to be considered a planet, the icy world and its natural satellite would have to move alone through their orbit.

This definition differs from the IAU definition in that it makes no reference to the celestial body's surroundings. It stated that planets are round objects that orbit our sun and are big enough to clear the neighborhood around its orbit. Most are closely affiliated with geology and other geosciences, thus making the new geophysical definition more useful than the IAU's astronomical definition. And that whopping increase is actually a good thing, Runyon says, as he thinks it will engage the public in space exploration.

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