By Antonio M. Manaytay/ Time Posted: 12:40 PM
Pluto has an advocate urging the scientific community to restore it as a planet after its demotion in 2003.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has been vocal with the demotion of Pluto. His voice is one of the growing numbers of advocates calling for the restoration of Pluto to the Planet Club.
“In my view, Pluto is a planet,” the NASA administrator said during a tour of the Aerospace Engineering Sciences Building at the University of Colorado Boulder on August 24, exactly 16 years after Pluto’s demotion.
“You can write that the NASA Administrator declared Pluto a planet once again. I’m sticking by that, it’s the way I learnt it, and I’m committed to it,” Bridenstine said.
The Bridenstine declaration does not have any bearing to the status of the once-a-planet Pluto. But his assertion could possibly open up the discussion again on what really is a planet.
Pluto, considered a dwarf planet, shares its orbit with the non-planets inside the Kuiper’s belt. It is influenced by the gravity of Neptune.
Recent studies, however, raised the question: Was the reclassification of Pluto into a dwarf planet not hasty?
Philip Metzger, after studying volumes of scientific literature, said Jupiter’s giant moons Titan and Europa were at times considered as planets.
The reclassification made by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) was not supported by modern research, he said.
“The IAU definition would say that the fundamental object of planetary science, the planet, is supposed to be defined on the basis of a concept that nobody uses in their research,” Metzger said.
He called the IAU’s definition of a planet is “sloppy.”
Over a hundred planetary scientists, according to Metzger, are “using the word planet in a way that violates the IAU definition.”
But these planetary scientists continue to do it because “it’s functionally useful.” Then, why not apply it to Pluto.
Pluto was discovered in 1930 by US astronomer Clyde Tombaugh. But in 2003, Pluto was demoted. (Antonio M. Manaytay/Mindanao Sun/ Featured Image: WikiImage/ Pixabay)