Trump's NASA chief, who has no scientific background, said Pluto is a planet
- NASA head Jim Bridenstine said that he believes that Pluto is a planet, wading into a decades long debate over the status of the ninth rock from the Sun.
- "You can write that the NASA administrator declared Pluto a planet once again. I'm sticking by that, it's the way I learned it and I'm committed to it," Bridenstine said at a conference Friday.
- Bridenstine's 2018 appointment as NASA administrator was criticised by lawmakers because of his lack of a scientific background.
- Pluto was discovered in 1930, and was long considered a planet, before being reclassified as a dwarf planet in 2006 by the International Astronomical Union.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
NASA director Jim Bridenstine said that Pluto should be considered a planet, wading into a decades long debate over the status of the ninth rock from the Sun.
In remarks to reporters during a tour of the Aerospace Engineering Sciences Building at the University of Colorado Boulder, Bridenstine said he sided with scientists who believe Pluto is a planet."Just so you know, in my view Pluto is a planet," he said. "You can write that the NASA administrator declared Pluto a planet once again. I'm sticking by that, it's the way I learned it and I'm committed to it."
Despite being NASA chief, Bridenstine has no background in science. After his nomination to the role by President Trump in 2017, lawmakers voiced concern about his lack of experience.
While NASA administrators are usually appointed from within the ranks of the agency or have substantial military or scientific experience, Bridenstein is a former congressman from Oklahoma and Navy pilot who used to run the Air and Space museum in Tulsa.
Read more: An astronaut may have committed the first space crime while aboard the International Space Station
Previously, his comments questioning scientific consensus on climate change drew criticism, but he has since said he has changed his mind, and now accepts that climate change is largely driven by humans.
The scientific community is torn over whether or not Pluto is a planet
Scientists have long debated the status of Pluto, which was declared a planet after its discovery in 1930 by US scientist Clyde Tombaugh.
In 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) downgraded Pluto's status to that of dwarf planet, after other objects of a similar size were discovered in its vicinity.
Bridenstine's claims are likely to be met with support by some scientists within his agency. Alan Stern, the leader of NASA's New Horizon's Mission to research Pluto, has long been a staunch critic of it's reclassification."My conclusion is that the IAU definition is not only unworkable and unteachable, but so scientifically flawed and internally contradictory that it cannot be strongly defended against claims of scientific sloppiness," he wrote in September 2006.
My favorite soundbyte of the day that probably won't make it to TV. It came from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. As a Pluto Supporter, I really appreciated this. #9wx #PlutoLoversRejoice @JimBridenstine pic.twitter.com/NdfQWW5PSZ- Cory Reppenhagen (@CReppWx) August 23, 2019
This annoys me. The NASA ADMINISTRATOR saying Pluto is a planet after IAU astronomers worked tirelessly to help further our understanding of the Solar System isn't helping sci-commers at all.- Lee Giat (@DirectorLeeGiat) August 24, 2019
It's like saying the Sun is orbiting Earth because daddy Ptolemy said it did. https://t.co/rlciadDucG