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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pluto: Once Proud Planet, Now Insecure Dwarf

The former Ninth planet in the solar system, Pluto, is a shell of its former self. After being demoted to dwarf planet status in 2006 by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), Pluto has been in a downward spiral, refusing to gain mass and, in fact, losing some of its icy composition.
"Pluto is in bad shape," said astronomer Dr. Basil Fisher," We are quite worried that the feelings of insecurity and embarrassment after being demoted have led this once proud planet to act recklessly."
Pluto's orbit since its demotion in 2006 to dwarf planet has been chaotic and in some cases downright dangerous, nearly resulting in a collision with the Planet Neptune on several occasions.
"Pluto is a rogue spherical mass these days, operating by its own set of rules. Its stabilty is in question as of late. The orbits of Neptune and Pluto have remained unchanged for millions of years, with the possibility of a collision as virtually non existent. Until 2006. That's when everything changed. Pluto's behavior has become erratic, jeopordizing not only itself and Neptune, but in one instance almost penetrating the gaseous orbit of Uranus. That is totally uncalled for," said NASA scientist Sebastian Musso, "I understand Pluto is going through a very difficult and depressing time, but you don't behave like that."

The members of the IAU who made the decision to demote Pluto based their vote on three requirements for which an object may be classified as a planet:

1-It needs to be in orbit around the Sun. Check.
2-It needs to have enough gravity to pull itself into a spherical shape. Check.
3-It needs to have "cleared the neighborhood" of its orbit. Uh Oh.
According to this, Pluto is not a planet.
What does "cleared its neighborhood" mean?

As planets form, they become the dominant gravitational body in their orbit in the Solar System. As they interact with other, smaller objects, they either consume them, or sling them away with their gravity. Pluto is only 0.07 times the mass of the other objects in its orbit. The Earth, in comparison, has 1.7 million times the mass of the other objects in its orbit.
Thus, Pluto has lost membership in that very exclusive club, "Planets of the Solar System."

The controversial decision to reclassify Pluto has polarized not only the scientific community, but the general public.

"I don't blame Pluto for acting out. He's pissed off man. How do you think you'd feel if one day a creepy group of distant cousins said that you didn't belong in the family and everyone listened and kicked you out? Man, that would really suck! And all for what? Because you weren't big enough? Isn't that some shit! No wonder Pluto is harboring the solar system's biggest Napoleon Complex," said Tom "Rusty" White, amateur astronomer and angry citizen.

Some people are so upset with IAU's decision to demote Pluto that they have been protesting all around the globe in various cities since the 2006 ruling. The latest was in front of Tully's Coffee House in Seattle, Washington, where any angry mob gathered to show support for Pluto.

"Dwarf planet? Dwarf? Am I understanding that correctly? That's the term these genius's came up with? How God damned insensitive can these morons be? Dwarf? Really? In this day and age to label someone that way just blows my mind! Pluto will always be a planet to me as far as I'm concerned. It will always remain the last and most beloved planet in the mock Solar System model that I made out of styrofoam that hangs over my bed. Viva Pluto!" screamed outraged protester Pamela Costidis.

The debate rages on, and scientists and astronomers are monitoring Pluto's orbit very carefully. They may decide to re-classify Pluto and upgrade it back to planet status, but they don't want to rush to any decisions just yet.
"We're weighing our options and taking our time with this one," said Rutger Schtooper, member of the IAU, "it is a huge decision that could cause a ripple effect throughout the galaxy. If we let Pluto back in, then we might be opening the door for other smaller objects like Eris and Ceres to demand planet status. The list is infinite. We have to be very careful who we let into this exclusive club. Even amusement parks have height restrictions to prevent access for smaller riders who might get hurt. I ask you, what bigger ride is there than the Solar System?" DD

1 comment:

Penny said...

Thank you for opening my eyes to the plight of disgruntled planets. Please let me know where I may join a protest in my area.