Pluto: It’s not a dwarf, it’s just a late bloomer!
By Troy Corrington
One of the solar systems most mysterious planets is Pluto, which resides on the Kuiper Belt. It was discovered on February 18, 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh and was considered the ninth planet in our solar system.
However, in 2006, scientists discovered several similar planets in its belt and pronounced Pluto a “dwarf planet.” Ever since, there has been a heated debate over whether Pluto should be changed back to a planet, or not.
A planet is defined as, “any of the large bodies that revolve around the sun in the solar system,” in the Merriam Webster Dictionary. This is a main point of argument from those who support Planet becoming a planet again. "Requiring a planet to clear its orbit is unreasonable,” said New Horizons Scientists, “because it requires planets with wide orbits to be very large.”
Many argue that this debate is more than whether Pluto is a planet, but is actually about what defines a planet. The classification of something is very important to helping people describe others like it in a meaningful way.
Those who argue against this see a planet’s size, not just it’s shape, as being very important to its classification. “It was clear my discovery would end Pluto’s then 76-year reign as the most distant planet in our solar system,” Mike Brown a scientist who helped demote Pluto said. “Either Eris would join its ranks, or Pluto would lose its planetary status.”
Scientists claim that Pluto can’t be a planet as it has not even made a full rotation around the sun. The discovery of similar celestial bodies in size in its belt doesn’t help Pluto's case either.
In 2006, New Horizons launched a spaceship to study Pluto. It reached its destination in 2015, now the ship is focusing on studying more of the Kuiper Belt. With this scientists have seen many interesting things such as Pluto’s thin atmosphere and how ⅓ of the planet is covered entirely in ice. Still, many secrets of this planet, as well as its identity, elude scientists.
Visit www.NASA.gov to learn more about Pluto and the other planets in the solar system.