Pluto demotion irks NASA scientist

SAN ANTONIO, Aug. 25 (UPI) -- A NASA scientist in San Antonio, Texas, is criticizing the International Astronomical Union for voting to remove Pluto from the solar system's list of planets.

Alan Stern at the Southwest Research Institute called the move by the IAU's General Assembly sloppy science and said it would never pass peer review, the BBC reports.


The official naming body for astronomy since 1919, the IAU approved a definition of a planet Thursday that demoted Pluto to the category of dwarf planet.

Pluto was disqualified because its highly elliptical orbit overlaps with that of Neptune.

"Firstly, it is impossible and contrived to put a dividing line between dwarf planets and planets," says Stern. "It's as if we declared people not people for some arbitrary reason, like 'they tend to live in groups.'"

Stern, who is the lead scientist on NASA's robotic mission to Pluto, called the IAU ruling embarrassing.

Latest Headlines