If ever a spacecraft had the right to turn around and come home, it’s NASA‘s little New Horizons ship. Launched on Jan. 19, 2006, it was dispatched on a mission no other ship had ever dared attempt — fly out and reconnoiter Pluto, the most distant and mysterious planet in the solar system. Little more than seven months later, however — on Aug. 14, 2006 — word came down from the International Astronomical Union that, oops!, Pluto isn’t a planet after all. It’s a dwarf planet or a minor planet or a planetoid, or, most insultingly, a plutoid. But whatever you want to call it, it had been summarily busted down from one of the sun’s little princelings to a mere pretender — nothing more than a refugee from the Kuiper belt, the band of comets and other rocky, icy debris that circles the solar system. And for…

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