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Pluto is Purged as a Planet

Leading astronomers declare that Pluto is no longer a planet under historic guidelines that downsize the solar system from nine planets to eight. KSMU's Mike Smith talked with Missouri State University Astronomy Professor George Wolf about the news and has this report:

From the Associated Press and KSMU News:

The little rock that millions of schoolkids learned was the ninth planet from the sun is no longer, thanks to new guidelines adopted today by the International Astronomical Union meeting in the Czech Republic.

The decision spells out the basic tests that celestial objects now have to meet before they can be dubbed a planet.Pluto is now automatically disqualified because its oblong orbit overlaps with Neptune's.

Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh, a native of Burdett, Kansas. He later earned two degrees from the University of Kansas.

Meanwhile, NASA has a 700 million dollar program underway in which a spacecraft is heading for the former planet. The New Horizons spacecraft lifted off from Florida in January and should reach Pluto in July of 2015, and as far as the space agency is concerned, it doesn't matter that Pluto is now demoted from planet to its new designation, "dwarf planet".

A NASA official says the agency plans to keep exploring the "most scientifically interesting objects in the solar system--regardless of how they're classified.

For KSMU News, I'm Mike Smith.