Worlds without end! A paper published August 29 in the science journal Icarus has hurled serious criticisms of the definition of planets imposed on the world by International Astronomical Union in 2006 that also robbed Pluto of planetary status.
“The IAU’s definition was erroneous since the literature review showed that clearing orbit is not a standard that is used for distinguishing asteroids from planets, as the IAU claimed when crafting the 2006 definition of planets,” said Dr. Kirby Runyon, from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. “We showed that this is a false historical claim. It is therefore fallacious to apply the same reasoning to Pluto.”
According to the team, the definition of a planet should be based on its intrinsic properties, rather than ones that can change, such as the dynamics of a planet’s orbit. “Dynamics are not constant, they are constantly changing. So, they are not the fundamental description of a body, they are just the occupation of a body at a current era,” Dr. Metzger said. “We recommend classifying a planet based on if it is large enough that its gravity allows it to become spherical in shape.”
I must also note that the IAU’s definition had ignored the recommendations of its own committee on coming up with a new planetary definition and was voted on at the very end of a conference when almost everyone had left.
In other words, the IAU’s actions in 2006 were purely political, were bad science, and should be dumped as quickly as possible. And now the scientists are saying this, in peer-reviewed papers.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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