In 1930, Clyde Tombaugh of Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona discovered Pluto, a planet that would become the ninth and smallest in our solar system. Then in 2006, on the last day of the annual International Astronomical Union conference in Prague, everything changed. In a decision riddled with controversy, Pluto was officially reclassified as a dwarf planet.
So what led to Pluto’s abrupt reclassification? What criteria had suddenly changed for the scientific community to now classify it as a dwarf planet? And could the continued outcry from thousands around the world help reinstate Pluto’s planetary status nearly a century after its discovery?
In celebration of the 90th anniversary of Pluto’s discovery on February 18th, #TeamPluto, a new Discovery Channel special, seeks to answer these questions and more as it follows YouTube star and television host Nick Uhas alongside a team of esteemed astronomers, scientists and historians on the quest to understand this fierce fascination with Pluto’s planetary standing. Weighing both the scientific and social importance of this small but mighty force, #TeamPluto deep dives into Pluto’s strange history, from its discovery 90 years ago to the subsequent years of controversy that would besiege this little planet that could.
#TeamPluto premieres Tuesday, February 18th at 11pm ET/PT on Discovery and Discovery Go. Viewers can also catch the mini-documentary when it premieres Saturday, February 22nd at 11pm ET/PT on Science Channel and Science Go.
“Pluto’s upcoming 90th anniversary is the perfect time to dig in and tell the true story of this often mis-understood planet,” said Scott Lewers, EVP Multiplatform Programming Discovery Factual & Head of Content, Science. “At its core, Discovery’s mission is to further and better our understanding of science, exploration, and the human condition through storytelling, and in this special program, Pluto will receive our full attention.”
As a result of a unique and timely partnership with Lowell Observatory, Discovery also gives viewers unprecedented access throughout #TeamPluto to the observatory, the very place where Tombaugh first discovered Pluto nearly a century ago.
“We are honored to partner with Discovery on this special program that celebrates Pluto and its discovery at Lowell Observatory 90 years ago,” said Danielle Adams, Lowell Observatory’s Deputy Director for Marketing & Communications. “From the search for Planet X that was initiated by Percival Lowell to current research from the New Horizons spacecraft that flew by Pluto in 2015, viewers will get an inside look at the processes that lead to scientific discovery.”
People will be able to make their voice heard and cast a vote if they think Pluto is a planet. Audiences can visit the official poll on Discovery’s Facebook page and express what they think in the comments.
#TeamPluto is produced for Discovery Channel by Discovery Studios with Sandy Jarrell and Suzanne Rauscher as executive producers and Brian Leff as co-executive producer/showrunner. For Discovery Channel, executive producers are Scott Lewers, Kristen Variola, and Christina Bavetta and Joe Mazzeo is coordinating producer.
About Discovery Channel:
Discovery Channel is dedicated to creating the highest quality non-fiction content that informs and entertains its consumers about the world in all its wonder, diversity and amazement. The network, which is distributed to 88.3 million U.S. homes, can be seen in 224 countries and territories, offering a signature mix of compelling, high-end production values and vivid cinematography across genres including, science and technology, exploration, adventure, history and in-depth, behind-the-scenes glimpses at the people, places and organizations that shape and share our world. For more information, please visit www.discovery.com.