Tags: pluto | planet | status | nasa | scientists

Pluto Planet Status Debated as NASA Scientists Suggest New Definition

Pluto Planet Status Debated as NASA Scientists Suggest New Definition

This image of shows Pluto's largest moon, Charon, taken by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft 10 hours before its closest approach to Pluto on July 14, 2015, from a distance of 290,000 miles. (Rex Features via AP Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 21 February 2017 04:33 PM

Pluto might be back to planet status based on a new proposal introduced by scientists at NASA that gives a new definition regarding how a planet should be described.

Pluto was first classified as a planet in 1930, according to USA Today. However, that status was revoked in 2006, after other Pluto-like objects were discovered beyond Neptune. At the time, Pluto was categorized as a "dwarf planet."

"In the mind of the public, the word 'planet' carries a significance lacking in other words used to describe planetary bodies," the proposal states. "In the decade following the supposed 'demotion' of Pluto by the International Astronomical Union, many members of the public, in our experience, assume that alleged 'non-planets' cease to be interesting enough to warrant scientific exploration."

According to scientists, planets should be categorized as "round objects in space that are smaller than stars."

"A planet is 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 parameters," the proposal continues, according to USA Today.

Alan Stern, who is leading the team of NASA scientists, was also the principle investigator of NASA's New Horizons project, which gave way to new information regarding Pluto, Gizmodo noted.

Stern has been against Pluto's demotion for years.

In 2015, he said astronomers shouldn't have the final word as to what's considered a planet and what isn't.

"You really should listen to planetary scientists that know something about this subject," Stern said, according to Gizmodo. "When we look at an object like Pluto, we don't know what else to call it."

It will be up to the International Astronomical Union to either give the thumbs up or thumbs down on this new proposal.

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Pluto might be back to planet status based on a new proposal introduced by scientists at NASA that gives a new definition regarding how a planet should be described.
pluto, planet, status, nasa, scientists
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2017-33-21
Tuesday, 21 February 2017 04:33 PM
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