Is Pluto a Planet? Pluto is a planet. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has no plans to change the decision that Pluto is a planet and has decided against making it a minor planet number. There has been some confusion over this issue recently because of a number of large, icy bodies in orbit beyond Pluto, known as the Kuiper Belt. The icy bodies are believed to be hundreds of kilometers in diameter. Scientists are assuming that still larger bodies are in this region. Recent studies have led us to believe that Pluto was one of those icy bodies.
These are the three things a planet needs to have in order to be a planet:
There are planned missions to Pluto. The NASA mission, Pluto Kuiper Express was scheduled for launch in 2004, but the NASA mission has been stopped for budgetary reasons. NASA is now looking for proposals for a new Pluto Kuiper Belt mission. This will be the first mission to Pluto. Pluto has yet to be visited by a space probe or a manned shuttle.
What is the Pluto Kuiper Express?
The Pluto Kuiper Express is a spacecraft specially designed to study the Kuiper Belt and the planet Pluto. The Kuiper Express is equipped with a satellite called Charion. In the year 2012, Charion is scheduled to fly onto one or more of the large bodies in the Kuiper Belt, which is beyond Pluto.
Year by year, we learn more and more about our solar system and the planets in it. Although Pluto is the farthest planet from the Sun, we continue to learn new things about it all the time. Through NASA and the IAU, we will be able to know for sure what Pluto and the Kuiper Belt are really made of as well as what they look like. I look forward to the launch of the Kuiper Express so we all can know for sure the mysteries scientists have tried to solve for years.