Saturday, October 13, 2012

31 Days of Planets: Pluto

Day 10

Pluto is still a planet. I know everyone was so upset when Neil DeGrasse Tyson fought to "de-planetize" Pluto, but that's not what really happened. What really happened is that Pluto became special. Pluto became a dwarf planet - one of only two others (maybe). Of course, there are probably billions more dwarf planets, but Pluto gave us the deliberate ability to classify small planetary bodies as "not Earth-sized" and "not-gas giants." Instead of wandering around saying, "well, I guess we should call it a planet because it orbits the sun even though it's super small and different and doesn't really meet the criteria for a planet" we were able to definitively say: "Pluto is a dwarf planet."

It's like saying, "well, I guess we'll call you a hippie because you eat organic food and don't like war and ride bicycles, but your hair is too neat and your clothes are too carefully chosen," instead of "you are a hipster."

Pluto is in fact smaller than Eris and composed primarily of rock and ice. In fact, Pluto may host a hidden ocean. This means, if we run out of water because we humans are good at making bad decisions, we can mine Pluto. But then imagine the price of water! We'll be watching it like we watch the price of gas. 

"8.57 a gallon! Good heavens!" 
"Well that's what you get when you have to mine it from Pluto."

Pluto's atmosphere plays host to nitrogen, methane, and carbon monoxide. There may even be wind on the surface of Pluto.

In conclusion, just remember: Pluto is still a planet - just a dwarf planet.

Image from zmescience

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