There is still controversy about whether or not Pluto should be considered a planet. Although planets are mainly defined by their orbital path (the condition that prevented Pluto from remaining a planet), the issue of size is something to consider. The table below lists the planets, including Pluto, and their approximate diameters in meters. Planet Approximate Diameter (m) Mercury 4.88 × 106 Venus 1.21 × 107 Earth 1.28 × 107 Mars 6.79 × 106 Jupiter 1.43 × 108 Saturn 1.2 × 108 Uranus 5.12 × 107 Neptune 4.96 × 107 Pluto 2.3 × 106 a. Name the planets (including Pluto) in order from smallest to largest. b. Comparing only diameters, about how many times larger is Jupiter than Pluto? c. Again, comparing only diameters, find out about how many times larger Jupiter is compared to Mercury. d. Assume you are a voting member of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and the classification of Pluto is based entirely on the length of the diameter. Would you vote to keep Pluto a planet or reclassify it? Why or why not? e. Just for fun, Scott wondered how big a planet would be if its diameter was the square of Pluto’s diameter. If the diameter of Pluto in terms of meters were squared, what would the diameter of the new planet be? (Write the answer in scientific notation.) Do you think it would meet any size requirement to remain a planet? Would it be larger or smaller than Jupiter?
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