In July 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft flew by Pluto, revealing its surface to our view for the first time. In this program, Drs. Stern and Grinspoon give us an insider’s view of how this complex mission came to be and what it discovered at the edge of our solar system. Their new book (like the talk and with the same title) tells the full story of the mission, its ground-breaking discoveries at Pluto, and where it’s going next. Here is new science, straight from the source, with great insight into what it’s like to be part of a pioneering planetary mission.
Grinspoon and Stern have written a well-reviewed new book about the New Horizon project: Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto.
And the two have refuted the silly assertion that Pluto is not a planet: Why Pluto is a planet and many moons are, too – The Washington Post
… the process for redefining planet was deeply flawed and widely criticized even by those who accepted the outcome. At the 2006 IAU conference, which was held in Prague, the few scientists remaining at the very end of the week-long meeting (less than 4 percent of the world’s astronomers and even a smaller percentage of the world’s planetary scientists) ratified a hastily drawn definition that contains obvious flaws. For one thing, it defines a planet as an object orbiting around our sun — thereby disqualifying the planets around other stars, ignoring the exoplanet revolution, and decreeing that essentially all the planets in the universe are not, in fact, planets.
Even within our solar system, the IAU scientists defined “planet” in a strange way, declaring that if an orbiting world has “cleared its zone,” or thrown its weight around enough to eject all other nearby objects, it is a planet. Otherwise it is not. This criterion is imprecise and leaves many borderline cases, but what’s worse is that they chose a definition that discounts the actual physical properties of a potential planet, electing instead to define “planet” in terms of the other objects that are — or are not — orbiting nearby. This leads to many bizarre and absurd conclusions. For example, it would mean that Earth was not a planet for its first 500 million years of history, because it orbited among a swarm of debris until that time, and also that if you took Earth today and moved it somewhere else, say out to the asteroid belt, it would cease being a planet.