Science

Forums

A Huge New Image of Pluto Shows Off A Possible Ice Volcano

4

Sean, this is a terrific article, but I am disappointed to read the following sentence: "...we're finally seeing Pluto for what it really is: an incredible, feature-rich world that looks more and more like the one we live on, even if it's not a planet."

Pluto IS a planet, and these amazing features illustrate it has the same complexity and proesses as the larger planets. Why do you uphold a poor definition by four percent of the IAU when the evidence right in front of you shows that definition is wrong? New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern and most of the mission team never stopped considering Pluto a planet because they reject the IAU definition in favor of a geophysical one that rejects the notion that an object has to clear its orbit to be considered a planet. According to the geophysical planet definition, a planet is any non-self-luminous spheroidal body orbiting a star, free floating in space, or even orbiting another planet. If a celestial object is not a star itself and is large enough and massive enough to be squeezed into a round or nearly round shape by its own gravity, it is a planet. Please consider this and the fact that most of the 424 IAU members who voted on this are not planetary scientists but other types of astronomers. Their decision was immediately opposed by hundreds of professional astronomers in a formal petition. There is no need to keep repeating their definition as gospel truth when it really is just one side in an ongoing debate.

For more on how and why Pluto is a planet, check out Alan Boyle's book The Case for Pluto and my Pluto Blog at http://laurelsplutoblog.blogspot.com . Or contact Alan Stern, who I'm sure would be happy to discuss this with you for so you can provide fair and unbiased coverage of everything Pluto.