If you’re a part of the Pluto fan club - yes, it exists - or frequent the Pluto is a Planet webpage, you may want to sit down for this. You may have reacted unfavorably to the 2006 revelation that Pluto wasn’t a planet, which means you’re going to outrage over what you’re about to hear.
Are you ready? Scientists believe that Pluto may not even be a dwarf planet.
Hold your screams and cries of injustice for later and just listen.
In a study published in “Icarus,” a journal for publications on the Solar System, scientists claim to have found similarities between Pluto and the 67P comet that the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft studied in 2004.
Southwest Research Institute’s Christopher Glein released a press release describing the similarities, citing its chemical makeup, which is more in line with a “giant comet.” “We found an intriguing consistency between the estimated amount of nitrogen inside [a glacier on Pluto] and the amount that would be expected if Pluto was formed by the agglomeration of roughly a billion comets or other Kuiper Belt objects similar in chemical composition to 67P,” Glein explains.
Complicating the classification even further is that Pluto even shares a similar chemical composition to the Sun, which, quite frankly, is so much cooler than a dwarf planet. Along with looking at levels of nitrogen, researchers also considered the levels of carbon monoxide.
This research contradicts the research of Alan Stern, an investigator of the New Horizons mission, and David Grinspoon, an astrobiologist, which revealed that Pluto may still fit the billing for a planet. According to the duo, the 2006 conclusion to downgrade Pluto was “hastily drawn” and contains “obvious flaws.”
They go on to explain that the word “planet” is used “to describe worlds with certain qualities,” stating that “we and our colleagues quite naturally find ourselves using the word ‘planet’ to describe [Pluto].”
Stern and Grinspoon weren’t the only ones jarred by the 2006 revelation. In fact, one could say the news was met unfavorably. Imagine how things will go if Pluto is downgraded yet again.