Pluto and the Myth of a Planetary Status Vote
Pluto is a fascinating world; it’s teaching us more about the hidden third realm of the solar system than any other place we know of. Courtesy NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI
In the days since we got back from the events surrounding Pluto Encounter, I’ve been thinking a lot about the issue of planetary status for our newly explored friend in the Kuiper Belt. I know a lot of people are signing petitions to get Pluto’s planetary status returned to “planet”, and at the same time the planetary scientists involved in New Horizons data are falling in love with Pluto and analyzing their treasure trove of actual, scientific information.
Of course, Pluto is the realm of planetary scientists. They’re the ones who have the qualifications to figure out what it is and what it’s doing. I’ve always thought that having a tiny percentage of people decide on something as fundamental as Pluto’s status when they weren’t all planetary scientists was the height of arrogance by the IAU. That organization encouraged a “vote” and a “decision” on something that had less to do with scientific inquiry and more (I suspect) to do with politics.
Since when ...