Let's Get Pluto Out of the Dog House - The Scientist - Magazine of the Life Sciences
AbstractPoor Pluto. Poor misunderstood, maligned, underrated, way-out-there Pluto. Poor eccentric little rubber ball. Is it a planet? A comet? An asteroid? Fifty-seven years old and no one—not even its closest friends and admirers—knows if it’s a grown-up. The debate over Pluto’s status rages on, largely in the popular press. For example, within a 2-month period, The New York Times reported that Pluto is such a runt that it may be getting kicked out of the planetary litter (March 30, p. B-6) and then that it’s got such a nice little atmosphere that it might really be a planet after all (May 14, p. A-23). Is it any wonder Pluto’s a bit schizophrenic? It can’t even decide whether or not to be the farthest planet from the Sun (until 1999 Neptune has that honor; then Pluto takes over). Pluto is so devalued that a little rodent like Mickey Mouse gets to name his harebrained dog after it. Some fate for the planet named for the king of the underworld. Pluto is the Rodney Dangerfield of the solar system. Talk about no respect. It didn’t start out that way. Pluto was welcomed warmly into the planetary family in March 1930.