Pluto Politics Left Behind, MSNBC
"The IAU is not Holy Mother Church, speaking ex cathedra," Mark Sykes, director of the Arizona-based Planetary Science Institute and an advocate for Pluto's planethood, said in an e-mail sent as I was writing up "The Case for Pluto." "Theissue continues to be debated," Sykes observed. "Scientists continue to write papers where Pluto and other such objects are referred to and treated as planets, because the science being discussed (e.g., atmospheric processes, mantle convection, differentiation) are shared with objects like the Earth." Alan Stern, a planetary scientist at the Colorado-based Southwest Research Institute and principal investigator for NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto, turned down an invitation to speak at the IAU's Rio meeting. "I'm not there because the IAU seems to have become irrelevant," he told me today via e-mail."