Pluto Is a Planet, Says NASA Chief

In 2006, astronomers stripped Pluto of its planet status — and that has not sat well with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

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“Just so you know, in my view, Pluto is a planet,” he said Saturdayduring an event at the University of Colorado Boulder. “You can write that the NASA Administrator declared Pluto a planet once again. I’m sticking by that, it’s the way I learnt it, and I’m committed to it.”

Before 2006, researchers did not have a set definition of a planet. But then a research team headed by California Institute of Technology astrophysicist Mike Brown found an object in our solar system that was larger than Pluto — but much farther away. So, did that mean Brown and his coworkers had just found a new planet?

To clear up the confusion, the International Astronomical Union officially defined both planets and dwarf planets — and established on the new definitions, Pluto no longer made the cut.

Unless the IAU chooses to rewrite its definitions, the agreement is that Pluto just is not a planet. And if Bridenstine wishes to argue against those definitions, fine — he’d be far from the first to dispute the demotion, which was based not on the object’s size, but the fact that it had not accomplished to clear its orbit of other rocks.

But that fact that the head of America’s space agency won’t change his view as it doesn’t support what he was taught probably in grade school? That’s something to worry about.