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20 March 2017, 08:19 | Justin Tyler
A group of scientists are lobbying to restore Pluto's planetary status
A scientist from Johns Hopkins University has argued that Pluto is still a planet. But now a group of scientists are getting pretty serious about restoring the so-called "non-planet" and making Pluto great again.
Runyon believes that the change that was approved in 2006 doesn't make any sense as Pluto has all the things on its surface that one would associate with things on a planet. They will present their findings on March 21 at the conference sponsored by the Lunar and Planetary Institute.
When the International Astronomical Union decided in 2006 that Pluto wasn't a planet, mother's menu changed from Nine Pizzas to Noodles (or Nachos, Nuts or Nabisco Shredded Wheat).
There are now four recognized dwarf planets in the solar system other than Pluto, but NASA suspects there could be over 100 such objects that haven't yet been discovered.
Runyon says there's "nothing non-planet about it". They are all members of the New Horizons mission to Pluto, which is managed for NASA by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. The team wants a definition of "planet" that prioritises the intrinsic qualities of the body itself, rather than external factors such as its orbit or other objects around it.
Runyon's team wants to formally define a planet as "a sub-stellar mass body that has never undergone nuclear fusion and that has enough gravitation to be round due to hydrostatic equilibrium regardless of its orbital parameters".
But, based on that last aspect it could be reasoned that the IAU definition also excludes Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Neptune too, as they share their orbits with asteroids. Otherwise, Pluto fit the IAU definition: It orbits the Sun and it is massive enough that the forces of gravity have made it round. The new geophysical definition does not include stars, asteroids, black holes and meteorites but everything else in solar system is included. It would expand the number of planets from eight to about 110.
Astronomy studies claim that current definitions of what constitutes a planet are technically flawed as they only say that planets orbiting stars "count". As the very word "planet" seems to carry a "psychological weight", he figures that more planets could encourage that public interest. A newer, more accurate definition of what is and what is not a planet is needed. Well, the new definition would not require approval from a central governing body, and it has already been adopted by Planet Science Research Discoveries, an educational website founded by scientists at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa. "It drives home the point of continued exploration".
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