Shouldn't it be Planet of Restricted Growth?
A NASA probe came closer to Pluto than any other vessel in the history of space travel on 2 December. The New Horizons mission broke the closest-approach mark to the dwarf planet of 1.58 billion kilometers that was set by NASA's Voyager 1 in January 1986. To reach that milestone, the spacecraft spent 2,143 days, or nearly six …
Had that anomaly been detected when when they launched back in 2006?
It's pretty amazing to think they launched 5 years ago and they've still got another 5 years of waiting before their probe reaches its destination. I hope it all goes well for them, as I would imagine 10 years of waiting only for the probe to go wrong like Phobos-Grunt would be devastating.
...the other BBC annoyance: Bullet Point News
If I wanted to read news designed for those with short attention spans, whom are unable to digest anything longer than a sentence or two at a time I'd go and read the dumbed-down BBC Sci/Tech section*!
* or pretty much ANY section of the BBC website.
Let them continue to be full fledged planets. Just don't give them full voting rights.
And why isn't Pluto's largest moon called Persephone, his wife? Isn't calling it Charon a little gay? Lurking out there in the shadows like they do. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)
Sedna, Eris, Quaoar, Ixion, Orcus, Varuna, Haumea, Makemake, and Ceres are all planets because they orbit a star and because they are large enough for their own gravity to squeeze them into a round shape--a state known as hydrostatic equilibrium. However, the latter is not true for the majority of Kuiper Belt Objects, which are not similar size to these bodies but much,much smaller, far too small to be shaped by their own gravity. The larger objects that are in hydrostatic equilibrium are small planets. It makes no scientific sense to keep the number of planets small artificially just for the sake of memorization. Memorization is not important for learning. We don't ask kids to memorize the names of all the rivers or mountains on Earth or of all the moons of Jupiter. A better option is to teach kids the different types of planets and the characteristics of each type.
Yes, Pluto IS a planet because dwarf planets are planets too. It just happens that New Horizons Principal Investigator Dr. Alan Stern is the person who coined the term "dwarf planet" back in 1991. He intended it to refer to a third class of planets in addition to terrestrials and jovians, small planets massive enough and big enough to be rounded by their own gravity but not large enough to gravitationally dominate their orbits. The controversial demotion of Pluto by four percent of the IAU in 2006 went directly contrary to Stern's intention when he coined this term, was opposed by hundreds of professional astronomers including Stern, and therefore should not be taken as fact but merely as one viewpoint in an ongoing debate.
"The New Horizons probe is expected to pass through the Pluto system in mid-2015, by which time the team expects to see features as small as a football field."
They're going to look a little silly if it turns out that Pluto doesn't have any football fields on it... Plus presumably all the Plutonian tennis courts will lay undiscovered.
So, New Horizons was launched in January 2006, when Pluto was still a fully fledged planet, and has been asleep ever since?
Boy is it going to be pissed off when it wakes up to find that it's only going to a dirty snowball of a dwarf planet now. Lets hope it's not armed with a laser vaporiser like it's en-route to Mars cousin, because it's going to be pretty annoyed with us when it hears about the change in job spec.
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