A team of researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, United States, have presented a paper lobbying to restore Pluto’s planetary status, the varsity’s news center “The Hub” reported. The six-member team led by scientist Kirby Runyon are pitching to have 100 celestial bodies categorised as planets.
In 2006, the International Astronomical Union dropped Pluto from the list of planets in our solar system, bringing the number down to eight. The highly-debated subject will be discussed at a Lunar and Planetary Science conference in Texas.
Pluto “has everything going on on its surface that you associate with a planet. There’s nothing non-planet about it,” Runyon said. The team wants a definition of “planet” that prioritises the intrinsic qualities of the body itself, rather than external factors such as its orbit or other objects around it. The International Astronomical Union, however, exempted Pluto on the grounds that a planet and its satellites move alone through their orbit.
Runyon believes that public interest in astronomy will increase as the word “planet” appears to carry a “psychological weight”. The new definition, which does not require approval from a central governing body, is also more useful to planetary scientists. “I want the public to fall in love with planetary exploration as I have,” said Runyon. “It drives home the point of continued exploration.”