Letting in the smallest: A case to make Pluto a planet again

I was always different in school. I hated loud noise, was introverted and quiet, and had bigger dreams and desires than simply getting into the biggest college or winning a scholarship. I spent most of my time alone until the people who would eventually become my friends accepted my differences.

All humans are different, and yet we want to be included. That is normal. However, when the same discussion about inclusion happens in space, it’s a little more interesting. I found this story in a new directory and just had to keep reading.

Pluto, the dwarf planet, is being defended by several scientists who say it is a full blown planet and who want it to be returned to that status.

The history of Pluto

Pluto was the ninth planet in the solar system, having been discovered in the Kuiper belt- which is an asteroid field that exists around Neptune. However, after even larger objects in the belt were discovered, the very nature of what made a planet a planet was defined.

Eventually, the terms were set to divide planets from other bodies in space, and the terms are as follows.

  • A planet must be in orbit around the sun
  • Must have a mass that can give it a round shape
  • Must be gravitationally dominant, meaning that it can’t share its orbit with anything that isn’t orbiting the planet by its own gravity

That third rule is making everything tricky for Pluto because it is being held in place by Neptune’s gravity and has other objects in the Kuiper belt orbiting around it. That was what caused it to become a dwarf planet in 2006.

A non-valid decision

A scientific journal recently said that the rationale behind the choice to downgrade Pluto was nonvalid. That controversial 3rd point has not been used to define a planet since Pluto, and the points that determine a planet have been changed to focus on the second point.

If it is a spherical shape, the paper argues, it is a planet. Plus the gravitational forces that mold a celestial body into a planet actually help the object evolve geographically, something that separates them from other pieces of misshapen space debris.

With so much more information about Pluto available to us now, including the fact that it has ice and snow and maybe even an ocean underneath the surface, more and more people are advocating a return to the simpler nine-planet methods of old.

What will happen?

Bringing back Pluto back to planet status will still require a ton of debate and study by scientists and other people in the space industry, however, the seeds of a debate have definitely been sown and I for one welcome Pluto’s return to a nine-planet solar system.

Whether this debate translates into action or is simply debated over for years, it’s still interesting to see if Pluto will be upgraded and if we get any other planets as a result of the changing rules.