Space & Planetary Science: March 2017 Archives

A new definition would add 102 planets to our solar system -- including Pluto, Washington Post

"[Alan Stern] scoffed at Pluto's new classification, "dwarf planet" -- "How can an adjective in front of a noun not describe the noun?" Stern asked. "There are dwarf stars but they're still considered stars..."

... "The paper that [Kirby Runyon will present this week isn't a formal proposal, like the one that was devised at the IAU. He's not putting his definition up to a vote, or even suggesting that it should replace the IAUs. If he did, it's unlikely that the IAU would adopt it. [Carolyn] Porco, who is one of the lead scientists for NASA's Cassini mission to Saturn, pointed out that she is a planetary scientist and has no problem with the IAU's orbital dynamics-based definition. She also noted that astronomers already have a perfectly serviceable term for the kind of body Stern and Runyon are trying to describe: "world." In her view, the only scientists who want to make those places planets are people who study Pluto."

Keith's note: What is Stern's point? he says "There are dwarf stars but they're still considered stars". OK, by his logic a "dwarf planet" is therefore still considered a "planet". Hooray: Pluto is a planet. So why does Stern continue to moan and groan about whether or not Pluto is a planet? Stern and his small cadre of Pluto loyalists complain incessantly about the 2006 IAU vote to reclassify Pluto - yet in the ensuing decade no one has seen fit to try and formally submit a better definition to the IAU and have a discussion that involves the entire space science community. They'd rather just complain, it would seem, since that attracts more attention - to Pluto.

Bill Nye has a few tips for President Trump on how to manage NASA, The Verge

"Nye saves his most optimistic hope for last. He argues that the Trump administration should increase NASA's budget by 5 percent each year for the next five years. That way, the agency will have the money it needs to execute its ambitious human spaceflight program and science programs. It's an incredibly hopeful thought at a time when NASA is currently working on the president's budget request for 2018. And all signs point to NASA facing a potentially large cut in its funding from the new administration. It's something that the Planetary Society is aware of. "Obviously we knew based on hints and signs that funding was going to be a challenge, but at the same time, the space community has to be honest about what it needs if it's going to succeed," says Dreier. "We should not change our message because the non-defense discretionary part of the budget may shrink. The 'five over five' plan is totally realistic in terms of overall spending."

Keith's note: All discretionary government spending faces extreme budget cuts and yet Bill Nye and The Planetary Society somehow expect NASA to be exempt from this government-wide budget reformatting effort - and get an increase - every year for 5 years - for they things that they want to be funded - all while NOAA's satellite data systems will be gutted, large number of government employees will be laid off, and tens of millions of people face the prospect of losing their health care? Really Bill?

Collective Denial At Planetary Science: Vision 2050 Workshop, earlier post


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This page is an archive of entries in the Space & Planetary Science category from March 2017.

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