A scientist from NASA requires to call Pluto a planet again

A scientist from NASA requires to call Pluto a planet again

New Horizon Mission by Alan Stern has forced scientists to reconsider their decision of ruling out Pluto as a planet.

Planets are a vital part of our solar system. Each of them has a different set of properties that differentiate them from each other. These properties may vary on the basis of their diameter, rotation and time difference. In addition to these variants, each planet has a diverse orbit speed as well. Each planet has a dissimilar velocity because of their disparate distances from the sun. As the planet travels further away from the sun, its orbit increases resulting in more days to complete its orbital cycle.

Each of those planets is also subdivided according to their forms. The planets that are closer to the sun have a certain similarity in them. The heat from the sun evaporated buoyant components such as helium and hydrogen into interplanetary space. This reaction left rock and metal into an adjacent region which later on shaped all four planets; Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. Due to their formation, these planets were later categorized as terrestrial or rocky planets. On the contrary, the outer planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are the most enormous planets of our solar system and they are categorized as gas giants. These planets are majorly composed of gases like hydrogen and helium and they have a relatively small rocky core.

All these similarities and variances make us wonder, what made all eight of the planets? According to International Astronomical Union (IAU), a planet is defined as an object with these properties:

·         They should have sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome firm body forces so that it undertakes a hydrostatic equilibrium which ultimately leads to a spherical or nearly round shape

·         It is not just a moon of another orbiting entity

·         It is essential for a celestial body to orbit around the sun

·         The body should have cleared all the debris and minor objects from the vicinity of its orbit

When these guidelines were presented, IAU fashioned a newer classification known as dwarf planets. These planets evidently conceded all the criteria of a planet except one. These certain planets had not cleared the debris from their orbital surroundings.

The dwarf planet terminology was one of the leading reason for eliminating Pluto as a planet. According to these guidelines, Pluto should have cleared all the trivial objects as well as debris from its orbital cycle. Since it was not the case, Pluto was devalued from its Planet title to dwarf planet in 2006. Alan Stern a renowned planetary scientist was furious as he was unable to admit the fact that his beloved former planet Pluto was demoted.

He was shaken by the whole Pluto conundrum and played the part of the principal investigator of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto. Stern administered a team of NASA scientists who had anticipated a wider definition of planets that did more than just restore the icy dwarf planet to its former grandeur. Further, the proposal described the process for planetary categorization as follows:

“A sub-stellar mass body that has never undergone nuclear fusion and that has sufficient self-gravitation to assume a spheroidal shape adequately described by a triaxial ellipsoid regardless of its orbital parameters.”

Stern’s appetite to gain his former titleholder planet drove him to lead his New Horizon mission which surprised him with astonishing results. He had found implausible images and new evidence of his pride, Pluto.

When the spacecraft (New Horizon) was launched the team along with Alan Stern had no idea that their fight for Pluto to be a planet was just a preliminary task in their imminent journey. In 2015, Pluto showed evidence beyond an ordinary planet. It indicated that the current activity on its surface was beyond amazing. Its atmospheric hazes and lower-than-predicted atmospheric escape rate overturned all of the pre-flyby models. Another discovery that fascinated the scientists were that all the moons that Pluto had were of the same ancient age which presented the theory that all of them were formed together by the single collision between Pluto and another planet long ago. Another fact that came to life was that Pluto’s 1000 km wide heart-shaped nitrogen glacier was, in fact, the largest glacier present in the solar system.

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