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Is it time to call Pluto a planet again?

“Probably not,” many experts said.

But that doesn’t mean it will always be a dwarf planet. As NASA’s New Horizons passes by Pluto, an underdog planet beloved in the hearts of many enthusiasts, it has come to the attention of many scientists around the world that Pluto was a lot bigger than expected.

So is it time to maybe rethink that Pluto is bigger than the average asteroid, less dwarf and more planet? Maybe not. Either way, Pluto was confirmed to be the biggest in the Kuiper Belt, just slightly bigger by volume and diameter than the other big contender, Eris.

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Eris and its moon, Dysnomia.

What scientists found incredible is that Pluto has a relatively young surface compared to other planets, with hardly any craters or other punches and smacks from outer space. On top of that, mountains made of pure ice were recently discovered. Its internal structure is completely unique as well, apart from other rock planets such as Earth or Mars, and even its neighbours Eris and Charon.

The thing that really blew away scientists, though, was its active, hot, internal core which suggests the planets and some dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt are still growing and have tons of geological activity. Because of Pluto’s smooth surface and gradually growing ice mountains, I think it’s time to reopen the planet debate.

I was in the “Pluto is not a planet” camp for a very long time, considering its bizarre orbit around the sun and tiny, teeny weenie size. No matter how much I loved Pluto, even with my heart believing in Pluto’s legitimacy as a planet, I just wasn’t convinced.

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Charon, the waltzing partner of Pluto. Its canyons are twice as deep as the Grand Canyon’s.

However, with all the new evidence provided by the heroes at NASA, I realized that maybe we were all just a little too hard on the little planet that tried. Maybe with its large atmosphere, unique makeup and growing bones, scientists should have not so quickly taken away its title.

But then again, a dwarf planet status is not so bad, right? Here’s more reason why we should all be fervently downloading images of Pluto — with Charon and Pluto high-fiving way more than we ever thought, this dynamic duo of our solar system may even be confirmed as the first binary dwarf planetary system. Chances are we’ll be seeing a lot more of Charon in the days to come, whose existence was debated up until Horizon’s photos came back to Earth.

Hydra was also heavily photographed, despite being quite far away for New Horizon to photograph. It was confirmed that it is mainly made up of ice water and is very similar in makeup to Triton. More moons such as Nix and Kerberos will probably show up in the days to come, as well as more info on Hydra.

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With five moons all orbiting Pluto, easily making it similar to a planet like Saturn or Jupiter, the new and constant geological activity and being far more alive and hefty than anyone on Earth knew, Pluto makes a strong case for itself. Even NASA says it’s thinking about “restoring Pluto’s honor”. Either way, Pluto has delivered way more than anyone bargained for.

If Pluto isn’t restored, no need to panic — we should all be way excited that the backdoor mysteries of our own solar system are finally being revealed. Maybe next we’ll hear about news from NASA’s Voyager, which left our solar system last year — aliens, perhaps?

About Ruth R.J.

Ruth R.J.

R.J. is a writer, photographer, au naturel comedienne, professional slacker and food hustler from Ottawa, Canada. A multi-talented woman with a great track record for saving the world in style, she regularly squanders it all playing horror survival games (while totally not crying).
Contact Ruth: ruth.r@youthindependent.com