What do you call it when something has a simple, obvious answer, and someone suggests instead a pointlessly complex and ridiculous alternative? Occam's Trash Can?
Yes, the Sun-Jupiter system should just barely count as a binary object. But not a binary star because Jupiter isn't a star.
Since this is slashdot, how about pseudocode?
else if (FLYING_BY_PLUTO_RIGHT_NOW)
wait_to_hear_back_from_nasa = FALSE;
else if (FLYING_BY_EARTH)
And more than that, a "toy car" is a toy. Car is describing the type of toy.
A letter that opens with:
The New Horizons spacecraft experienced an anomaly this afternoon that led to a loss of communication with Earth. Communication has since been reestablished and the spacecraft is healthy.
Also, it's a poorly worded letter - they wrote "the team is now working to return New Horizons to its original flight plan", which of course is going to make people think it's going to drift off course or something. Obviously, physics does not work that way. Even if New Horizons exploded today, it's remains would drift right past where it was targeted to be - there's no more burns to make this late in the game. Better wording would have been original science plan. And the science plan doesn't call for any particularly critical science in the next few days.
These sorts of faults happen in spacecraft (often due to cosmic rays), and they're designed to handle them. New Horizons seems to have handled it perfectly, taking every action that it was supposed to.
And I'll add more that he doesn't make (though his are best!): it's ridiculous to call something a "dwarf X" and then say that that doesn't count as an "X". In any other field of science, if you had an "adjective-noun", it would also be classified as a "noun". If you have a dwarf shrew, it's also a shrew. If you have a dwarf fern, it's also a fern. Heck, even in the same field, astronomy, the same rule applies - a dwarf star is also a star.
Under the IAU definition, extrasolar planets aren't planets either. They don't even have a name - they're not anything at all. Not like we'd be able to classify them under the definition without dispatching a spacecraft all the way to each different star system even if they weren't excluded. The IAU definition also claims that they will create a system to establish more dwarf planets - something that clearly has not been done. There hasn't been a new dwarf planet accepted in nearly a decade, despite the fact that we know the sizes of many of them better than already-accepted candidates were known at the time. Quaoar is much bigger than Ceres, and we know it's size down to a mere 5 kilometers margin of error, yet it's not a dwarf planet. The IAU not only made up their ridiculous definition, but they're not even upholding it.
As with pretty much every categorization of object in pretty much every field of science, you need heirarchies and multiple groupings to describe the world. Among planets, we already know of significant diversity, and should only expect it to grow - hence we have terrestrial planets, gas giants, ice giants, hot jupiters, super earths, etc, and yes, dwarf planets - which should be just another category among the significant diversity already out there. Everyone knows a planet when they see it - you don't have to scan its orbit to see if it's "cleared" it, with some still-not-yet-agreed-upon definition of "cleared". If it's large enough to relax into a hydrostatic equilibrium, that's both meaningful, intuitive, and what people expect when they hear the word "planet". By any reasonable definition, our solar system has at least dozens, potentially hundreds of planets. And that should be seen as something to celebrate, not to be appalled about.
Steve5304: Rumors that Contact with new horizons has been lost again or was never regained. Unconfirmed
Alan Stern: Such rumors are untrue. The bird is communicating nominally.
Alan Stern is the director of the New Horizons mission. So no worries.
This was a really minor glitch and will have no impact on the mission as a whole. There weren't even any significant observations planned for today.