People get very, very emotional about Pluto being designated as a mere “dwarf planet” and not a proper planet like the other eight that inhabit our solar system. Tech Insider has scored an interview with Alan Stern, the head scientist behind the recent New Horizons mission that gave us our first clear pictures of Pluto, and he seems incredulous that the International Astronomical Union decided to kick Pluto out of the planet club back in 2006.
“It’s bulls–t,” Stern said of the decision, which he said was made only by astronomers without input from planetary scientists. “Why would you listen to an astronomer about a planet?… You really should listen to planetary scientists that know something about this subject. When we look at an object like Pluto, we don’t know what else to call it.”
The IAU argued that Pluto was too small to be considered a planet, as its mass is just 0.07 times the mass of other objects in its orbit. The IAU still claims Pluto is a dwarf planet, which it defines as a celestial body that:
(a) is in orbit around the Sun,
(b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces
so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape2,
(c) has not cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit, and
(d)is not a satellite.
To check out Tech Insider’s full interview with Stern and get more of his insights into what makes Pluto so cool, click here.