11 years ago, controversy shook the science community after Pluto was demoted to dwarf planet. Ever since then, Pluto enthusiasts (or apologists) haven been proposing a new definition of planet which would include the distant rocky body that orbits our sun.
A group of NASA scientists will soon be meeting to propose a new standard that would include Pluto. The new definition would also incorporate ten other bodies in our solar system including Earth’s moon and other moons like Titan.
Alan Stern, the principal investigator of the New Horizons mission to Pluto, says the current definition of a planet is too narrow. He also implies that only people of his ilk should be permitted to define what it means to be a planet.
“Why would you listen to an astronomer about a planet?” he told Business Insider. “You really should listen to planetary scientists that know something about this subject. When we look at an object like Pluto, we don’t know what else to call it.”
The ”astronomer” that Stern is referring to is CalTech’s Mike Brown, who spearheaded the new planetary standard that excluded Pluto. Obviously, Stern disagrees with the Brown’s interpretation of the term planet, and decided to call him out. When did scientists start behaving like pro-wrestlers?
According to the proposal, this new classification would define planets as “a sub-stellar mass body that has never undergone nuclear fusion and that has sufficient self-gravitation to assume a spheroidal shape adequately described by a triaxial ellipsoid regardless of its orbital parameter.” In other words, we still have no idea what is or is not a planet.
Pluto was previously demoted because of its small stature. About 40 other distant objects including the large asteroid Ceres are relatively the same size as Pluto.
I don’t want to be a hater, but if our moon is defined as a planet, that doesn’t seem to make any sense. But hey, I’m no scientist.