Pluto nearly fills the frame in this image from the New Horizon’s Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI).
Credit: NASA/APL/SwRI

 

 

After more than a decade of controversy, the debate over the icy world’s demotion to “dwarf planet” status shows no sign of stopping.

The upshot from the vote to downgrade Pluto as a planet to a dwarf planet in 2006 by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) continues to swirl around a major axis of dispute.

Turns out, it’s a world also caught in a vortex of nomenclature, planetary pedagogy, as well as a slight nudge from ambivalence.

Leonard David (left) at last week’s 48th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas, interviewing Kirby Runyon about his Pluto as a planet campaign.
Courtesy: Kirby Runyon

 

 

New Horizons

There is no question that the July 14, 2015 flyby of Pluto by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft – the first probe to do so – has sparked more debate about the famous object’s Solar System standing. That far flung craft revealed surprising, eye-opening detail about Pluto and its entourage of moons.

 

Back into the “planetary ‘hood?

But while plugging back Pluto into the “planetary ‘hood” is being advanced, it’s arguably a tough call.

For more on the debate, discussion, controversy, take a look at my new story for Scientific American at:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ringo-is-a-beatle-hawaii-is-a-state-mdash-why-isnt-pluto-a-planet/

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