Pluto has perhaps never been as popular as it is at this very moment.
As NASA's New Horizons spacecraft made a historic flyby of the distant world Tuesday, the dwarf planet -- demoted from full planet status in 2006 -- has captured the world's attention from the very outer reaches of the solar system.
And while much of the response has focused on NASA's grand achievement -- a successful mission across nine years and 3 billion miles -- there are echoes of a rallying cry. Pluto has had its day, the people say, now it should get its due.
Perhaps William Shatner, with his vast expertise from years as a space captain, said it best Tuesday:
The International Astronomical Union stripped Pluto of its title because it didn't stand up to all of the organization's standards for designation as a planet: that it orbits the sun, that it's generally spherical and that its gravity has cleared the path around it.
Shatner isn't the only one willing to push back against the IAU. Indeed, New Horizons' principal investigator Alan Stern -- who was photographed Tuesday with Bill Nye "The Science Guy" giving a nine-fingered salute betraying his estimation that Pluto is the solar system's ninth planet -- has invoked the actor's famous role in his defense of distant ice dwarf.
"When Kirk and Spock show up orbiting an object, just by looking at the picture of it, they know it's a planet," he told astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson in an episode of NOVA on U.S. public television.
For his part, deGrasse Tyson is not convinced. The NOVA host tweeted Wednesday, "Dear Pluto, Lookin' good. But you're still a Dwarf Planet -- get over it."
Sunnyvale, Calif. Mayor Jim Griffith, a self-proclaimed tech geek in the heart of Silicon Valley, stands in Shatner's camp:
Author George R.R. Martin, creator of "Game of Thrones" tweeted out a new blog post Wednesday evening in which he referred to Pluto as "our ninth planet, dammit!!!"
Another writer, Chuck Wendig, took a more Sci-Fi thriller approach:
But what does Pluto think?
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