From Planet to Dwarf Planet then Kuiper Belt Object
Pluto, since originally being deemed a Planet in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh, our conception of the Solar System has continually evolved. In 2006, a new definition of “Planet” was adopted and Pluto was relegated to Dwarf Planet status. Beginning in 1992, many other objects beyond Neptune were discovered and formed the basis for confirming the Kuiper Belt theory. The Kuiper Belt is an area where it is theorized that un-evolved primitive material from the birth of the Solar System resides. Pluto is the largest member of the Kuiper Belt so far discovered. Pluto could be far older than any of the “Planets” in the Solar System and is now properly recognized as a unique body deserving a different classification other than Planet. Pluto may be a sample of pre-Solar System material that may have witnessed the birth of the Sun almost 5 billion years ago.
How do we know the Universe?
The Human mind and spirit has an innate urge to explore and learn about the Universe about us. Philosophy pits Empiricism against Rationalism. Empiricism is the use of the senses to analyze the Universe about us and learn how things actually are and discover unknown facts about how things work. That is a good definition of Science. Rationalism is the use of pure logic and conjecture to analyze the Universe and thus to know the Universe through thought experiments. Rationalism is a mental working model that has no basis in reality. Theories begin as rational concepts, but to become Science, they must then evolve into actually measuring the Universe and working out the relationships observed to prove or disprove the theory. We know the Universe through creatively inventing theories and verifying them through measurement thus employing both Rationalism and Empiricism as tools of exploration.
The Quest for Exploration
As a tool using species, we crafted the New Horizons Project to objectively collect data about Pluto and actually do the Empirical work required for Science. A mission to Pluto has always been a necessary step in our exploration of the Solar System. Empirical measurements will reveal the true nature of Pluto and if it is actually more ancient than our Sun.