Pluto should be considered as a planet, NASA director Jim Bridenstine has said. The announcement brings new light to a decades long debate over the status of the ninth rock from the Sun. His remarks came during a tour of the Aerospace Engineering Sciences Building at the University of Colorado Boulder. Bridenstine told reporters that he sided with scientists who believe that Pluto should be considered a planet. “Just so you know, in my view, Pluto is a planet,” he said.
Can Pluto become a planet once again?
“You can write that the NASA administrator declared Pluto a planet once again. I’m sticking by that, it’s the way I learned it and I’m committed to it,” Bridenstine added. He was nominated to the role by US President Donald Trump in 2017 despite having no background in science. His nomination saw lawmakers raise concern about his lack of experience. In the past, NASA has picked administrators from within the ranks of the agency. It has also chosen those with substantial military or scientific experience.
Bridenstine, on the other hand, is a former congressman from Oklahoma and a Navy pilot who used to run the Air and Space museum in Tulsa. He was previously criticized for his views about climate change. He seems to have changed his mind since and now accepts that humans are driving climate change. Bridenstine is calling for Pluto to be considered a planet once again while scientific community remains torn on the verdict.
Pluto was declared a planet after its discovery by US scientist Clyde Tombaugh in 1930. However, scientists have long debated the status and in 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) downgraded its status to that of a dwarf planet. The downgrade happened after other objects of a similar size were discovered in its vicinity. Bridenstine is expected to get support from some scientists within his agency. It remains to be seen whether IAU restores Pluto as a planet once again.