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Scientists: It’s Time To Call Pluto A Planet

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A change.org petition wants the International Astronomical Union to reconsider Pluto's planetary status.

Planetary scientists want Pluto classified as a planet again, and a petition to reconsider planet hood is gaining momentum.

In 2006, the International Astronomical Union created a system to classify what celestial bodies count as planets – and Pluto got the ax.

Pluto violates one rule of planet hood, according to the IAU, called clearing the neighborhood. As a planet moves through its orbit its gravity must either sling or swallow objects in its path.

“A lot of planetary scientists were very upset. It’s not their field to tell us what is a planet, so a lot of us would like the IAU to take up the matter again,” says planetary scientist Phil Metzger.

Metzger wants the IAU to look at fresh data from the New Horizons deep-space probe.

“In light of the new data, it doesn’t make sense to use dynamical classifications. We’ve found bodies that have not cleared out their orbit and yet clearly are planets,” says Metzger.

A change.org petition urges the IAU to reclassify Pluto as a planet next month and it’s is nearing 5,000 signatures.

The IAU could take up the issue at next month’s meeting in Hawaii.

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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Intersection' Producer

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts "Are We There Yet?", WMFE's space exploration podcast He also helps produce WMFE's twice-weekly public affairs show "Intersection," working with host Matthew Peddie to shape the ... Read Full Bio »