The money's been spent. New Horizons is on its way, and the label assigned to Pluto doesn't in any way diminish the significance of the mission nor the science that will be returned.
In any event, I don't think the IAU pronouncement changes anything. Pluto and the other Kuiper Belt Objects are facinating targets in their own right, despite what we may call them. There is a great deal to be learned about the early Solar System and its evolution from these objects.
Personally, I don't think it matters, but another way to view NH is to bill it as the first probe into a whole new class of objects instead of a Johnny-come-lately probe to the last of the classical planets.
Taken from here
It looks like saner and wiser heads are in control at NASA for the moment
Would any politician be able to pull the plug, saying that the cost of retrieving the data could be better spent and get away with it?NASA's New Horizons probe is in the midst of a 9˝-year journey to study Pluto and other icy mini-worlds, and NASA's Paul Hertz said Thursday's decision would have no effect on the mission. “We will continue pursuing exploration of the most scientifically interesting objects in the solar system, regardless of how they are categorized,” he said.
I thought it was great finally getting a mission out there after Grand Tours was scaled back and renamed Voyager, but one always expects some bump in the celestial road will get in the way.
How come we must explain you on a yearly basis that plugging NH after launch is the most silly thing to do, also financially speaking?
Ever since prior to launch you seem practically unable to form a sentence containing "New Horizons" that does not include a form of the verb "to scrub". Do you have an issue with this mission in particular?
Personally, i'd scrap it and transfer the science money to Ares/Orion. Just for spite.
That would be a better use of the money. But Griffin has enough enemies right now.
I'd just tell his enemies to launch their own missions if they hate LV development so very much.
They will help you eat the LV cake--they just won't help you bake it without pouting.
I really find it dissapointing that Nasa had to respond to such a question.
using a strict rule... can we call "planet" an hot-rock like Mercury or a ball of gases like Jupiter?
if we use the TRUE idea we have of a "planet" (like Earth) there are:
- one REAL planet (Earth)
- a few "possible" planets (Mars and some Jupiter/Saturn moons) but only after "terraforming" them
- many (unknown) REAL planets (like Earth) that runs around other stars...
The original definition (which we will equate with rule) is "Wanderer". Basically an object visible in the sky that doesn't go around with the rest of the objects. From the ground, the Earth doesn't wander, so it can't be a planet.
We are talking thousands of years of unknowns, refinements, and misinformation. So ANY definition is going to be wrong to some sizeable portion of the population.
What a ludicrous notion, scrapping New Horizons is. With hindsight, would you have scrapped Cassini? Voyager? Gallileo? This mission will reveal very significant scientific information about our outer Solar System. The Kuiper Belt covers a vast area, I for one reckon it will be immensly diverse. There's only one way to find out and that is to go and take a look at it.
I would like to see Pluto and Charon's surfaces, see how they look and get an idea of how they formed, etc. All of this is exciting science waiting to be discussed. You can be sure that when the first pictures come through, the Bautforum will be hammered with messages!
New Horizons Continuing on to Pluto, Planet or Not
For the time being, New Horizons is at least the first mission to a dwarf planet -- the new class of objects into which scientists dumped Pluto.
In the meantime, New Horizons' mission remains the same: to unlock one of the solar system's last, great secrets.
It doesn't matter if it's considered a planet or not. It's still largely unknown.
Remember, it also is going to fly by a couple of KBOs.
Even if Pleuto is not defined as a planet then this is still a priceless opportunity to study a planetesimal/KBO/dwarf planet/Pluton/whatever you want to call it. I've heard Pluto called "the Rosetta Stone of Planetary formation," lets find out what it's all about!