During 2006, the planet Pluto was demoted. Pluto began to be doubted as meeting the criteria for being a planet. The status came into question when it was found that Pluto crosses Neptune’s orbit, and is significantly smaller than the criterion based expectation (Jensen, Haskins and DeBoy). Thus, debates among science and society began and are still relevant today. The demotion of Pluto as a planet resulted in the development of the New Horizons mission was launched(Jensen, Haskins and DeBoy 103-06).
Mike Brown, an astronomer at the California Institute of Technology as identified himself as a “Pluto killer” following the International Astronomers Union (IAU), who revoked the status of Pluto as a planet(Yale 106). There is debate over this, and Pluto’s status is continually contested since this occurred six years ago. One may ponder about the cultural obsession, and I think it has to do with the magic of piqued interest of astronomy of the mass public. The devastation is a result of how this demotion forever changes our perception of and increased skepticism of the solar system.
Pluto’s planetary status underwent serious review in 2005 when Brown and his team identified an object far beyond Pluto(Publishing and Anderson 41-57). This round object orbits the sun but has its moon, is referred to as Eris, and since. Though Eris is relatively smaller in volume compared to than Pluto(Publishing and Anderson 41-57)., but Eris had more possibility for future endeavors and discoveries. It rekindled the fascination that in a way Pluto also evoked. Eris’ presence re-instilled that mystery of space still exists and there are an immense amount of undiscovered objects in the solar system.
The IAU was then placed in the position to decide how objects of the future discovery will be categorized(Publishing and Anderson 41-57).The committee’s recommendation requested that a new class of planet is implemented coined as “Plutoian” (Pliat) however, the IAU decided to consider Pluto, and others similar to it as being “dwarf planet”(Pliat). Some argue that the demotion of Pluto did not contribute further our clarification of the organization and description of the solar system (Publishing and Anderson 41-57;Pliat). Applying the name “Pluto-haters” to scientists fascinated and driven to discovery more about our solar system is absurd. How can planetary scientist hate the very thing they passionately research?
Demotion of Pluto is more of an issue of ensuring the establishment of a logical classification system for future objects found(Publishing and Anderson 57). Re-labeling requires rigor review to provide enough evidence that label is necessary and fitting. Pluto may be a victim of the lack of rigor of this process. There is a small group of advocates very fervent about Pluto’s status, mainly in the camp of re-classifying it as a planet.(Publishing and Anderson 58) So it’s no longer furthering astronomy science as the debate is not about the criteria for classifying the solar system, but rather one of public opinion, which may inhibit future discoveries.
- Regenerative Pn Ranging Experience with New Horizons During 2012. Aerospace Conference, 2013 IEEE. 2013. IEEE. Print.
- Publishing, B.E., and M. Anderson. The Nature of Planets, Dwarf Planets, and Space Objects. Britannica Educational Publishing, 2011. Print.
- Yale, Robert N. “Welcome to I-Berspace: Media Gratifications in Successful Virtual Communities.” Virtual sociability: From community to communitas (2011): 101-18. Print.