Say what you will, but Pluto should be a planet again, at least according to NASA Chief Jim Bridenstine.
While visiting a lab in Boulder, Colorado, Bridenstine was quoted saying that the dwarf planet should not be one. Apparently, he claims that his stance comes from how he learned about it growing up as a child.
Unfortunately, the NASA Chief does not have the authority to reinstate the dwarf as a planet. Apparently, that honor goes to the International Astronomical Union (IAU). In 2006, the IAU formally demoted Pluto to a Dwarf Planet following discussions on its mass. As a result of this downgrade, the IAU faced harsh criticism over the removal of Pluto. This led the union to redefine the definition of a planet. Accordingly, the new definition included the following characteristics:
- A celestial body that orbits the sun
- has enough gravitation to assume a roughly spherical shape and
- has managed to clear from its orbital path any smaller bits of debris
While Pluto meets the first two categories, it falls short of the third. Unfortunately, Pluto is just too small to clear debris and other objects in its path.
On Pluto, Brian May supports Bridenstine
Incidentally, NASA Chief Bridenstine has found a cool ally in Brian May. Notably, the legendary Queen Guitarist holds a Doctorate in Astrophysics. In a tweet, May mentions that he totally agrees with Bridenstine. Until 2015, Brian May had been actively involved with NASA’s New Horizons team. Consequently, the New Horizons Team was in charge of the spacecraft that made a fly-by on Pluto.