Most of us have learned about the solar system in our youth. We were shown images of the Solar System and started learning the names of the planets. Mercury, Venus, Earth and so on, we studied them all until we reached Pluto. However, in 2006 things changed. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) changed the classifications of planets and demoted Pluto to a dwarf planet. Still, New Horizons is trying to change that.
The new data and images that are streaming from New Horizons show that Pluto is actually bigger than it was previously believed. Moreover, it is home to some impressive geological features. As such, it is not surprising that many people wish to return Pluto to it’s well deserved status as a fully fledged planet. The scientists working on the New Horizons mission which recently reached the closest point of their fly-by Pluto project are among the most vocal.
“We are free to call it a planet right now,” Philip Metzger, a planetary scientist on the New Horizons mission, explained. “Science is not decided by votes … the planetary science community has never stopped calling bodies like Pluto ‘planets’.”
The IAU is all set to assemble for the first time in three years, in August. As such, the New Horizons mission could not have come at a better time. A petition has also been started on Change.org in order to pressure the IAU into taking Pluto’s status into consideration during their assembly.
“In the coming weeks, New Horizons will collect unprecedented amounts of data about the Pluto system, calling in to question the definition set forth by the IAU,” the petition said.
The members of New Horizons ask people to support their view and not that of the IAU. “Start calling Pluto a planet right now. Add to the consensus, because that’s how science makes progress, by one person at a time being convinced of the truth and adopting it,” said one of the members. “You are not required to submit to nonsense.”