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All the planets were worried. They hadn’t seen their little friend Pluto in a while.

“Where has our little friend suddenly gone? Chotu was with us all the time, Mars said anxiously, referring to Pluto by the nickname all the planets had given him.

“Could it be that little Pluto is playing a game of hide-and-seek with us? He’s quite a playful fellow,” Venus said thoughtfully.

“I don’t think so,” Saturn said. “Even if Pluto was trying to hide from us, one of us would have still spotted him. Don’t forget there are eight of us. And Pluto can only hide behind the Sun, since he too revolves around the Sun, just like all of us.”

“Well, if that was the case, one of us would have definitely seen him, since one of us would have been there too,” Mercury added explaining his logic.

“It is our folly that we couldn’t take good care of Chotu,” said Jupiter. “Pluto was the smallest and also the farthest of us all. We should have been more careful about him.”

“Well, Pluto was so far away that we couldn’t care for him as much as we wished to. After all, we are the inner planets,” Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars said together. They were the four planets who were closest to the Sun.

“Saturn, Uranus and I are the outer planets,” Jupiter clarified. “But we faced the same problem too.”

“It is all Neptune’s fault,” Uranus pointed out. “He was the closest to Pluto and should have been more responsible for Pluto’s well being.”

“I did my best to look after Pluto,” Neptune said, hoping the others would understand. “But what can I do if I have to move away from him while revolving around the Sun?”

“Could a space shuttle belonging to Earth have taken Pluto away for some kind of research?” Venus said. “Pluto is a small planet and I won’t be surprised if something like that has happened to him.”

Venus’s words made everyone look towards Earth.

“I think Venus is unable to think properly because of all her heat. She is the hottest planet of the solar system after all,” Earth retorted.

Earth then looked at the other planets and said, “Pluto is indeed small but no space shuttle can be big enough to take a planet with it. And if something like that had happened, wouldn’t I have known or told you about it?”

All the planets were confused. They wondered what had happened to their friend.

“Wherever could Pluto go?” Venus said anxiously. “This really is a mystery.”

“Well, we have searched all the possible places that we planets usually go to,” Jupiter said with a sigh. “But there’s no sign of Pluto anywhere.”

Just then the planets saw a space shuttle coming from Earth.

“I think we should ask the space shuttle if it knows anything about Pluto,” Uranus suggested.

“How would the space shuttle know? It is just entering space,” Saturn said, turning Uranus’s idea down.

“Quiet, Saturn! Uranus is right,” Jupiter said sternly. “The humans who live on Earth have sent several satellites into space. The satellites keep a tab on all the incidents that take place on the planets and all over space too. So, this space shuttle might just know the whereabouts of our little friend.”

The planets then waited for the space

shuttle to come closer. “Do you know anything about Pluto?” Mercury asked as soon as the space shuttle was close enough.

“Of course,” the space shuttle said. “Pluto was the smallest planet. And farthest from the Sun too.”

“Well, forget about all that! Tell us, have you heard anything about our friend Chotu… er…I mean Pluto? We haven’t seen him in a while,” Saturn said, sounding exasperated.

“Pluto is no more a pla…” the space shuttle started to say.

“What?” the planets said, sounding shocked. “Our little friend is no more?”

All the planets then began weeping. “Hey!” the space shuttle said, looking slightly startled. “Calm down please! You didn’t let me finish what I was saying.”

“You really are insensitive,” Venus scolded the space shuttle. “You have just given us the bad news that our little friend is no more and are not even letting us grieve our loss.”

“Well, you have no reason to grieve,” the space shuttle said. “Nothing has happened to Pluto. He is perfectly fine. It’s just that he is not a main planet anymore. He is a small or dwarf planet now.”

“But we already know that Pluto is small,” Mars said. “What’s new about that?”

“Well,” the space shuttle said. “Here’s some news for you. Pluto is no longer recognised as a main planet. In 2006, the International Astronomical Union decided that Pluto didn’t qualify as a planet. And so, they excluded Pluto’s name from the group of main planets that you belong to. Pluto was then put in the category of small or dwarf planets which also includes names like Eris and Asteroid Ceres.”

“Is that true?” Jupiter asked. “It sure is,” the space shuttle said. “Your friend Pluto has been classified as a dwarf planet now.”

“Ah,” Venus remarked. “I now understand why we couldn’t find Pluto. We were looking for him in places that we main planets frequent. But of course, we didn’t find him there since he is a small or dwarf planet now.”

“So does that mean there are only eight planets now?” Jupiter said, taking a deep breath. “Yes, Jupiter” the space shuttle replied. “That’s right.”

“Hey! That’s too bad,” Neptune said regretfully.

“Well, let’s look at this way,” Saturn said, trying to console the others. “The good news is that our friend Pluto is fine even though he has been classified as a dwarf planet now. I’m quite sure we’ll meet him sometimes though.”

“That’s fine,” Mercury said. “But this really has created a strange problem for me.”

Mercury’s words surprised everyone. “What’s the matter, Mercury?” Earth asked. “How is it a problem for you?”

“Well,” Mercury said. “Now that I am officially the smallest of all main planets, you all will nickname me as Chotu!”

Mercury’s joke made all the planets laugh heartily. They cheered up and felt quite relieved that their friend Pluto was fine even though he was a dwarf planet now.