Galileo's Continuing Quest

The other day we were reporting to you about a meeting in Italy: hundreds of astronomers gathered at the birthplace of Renaissance era astronomer Galileo. Galileo was one of the greatest astronomers of all time, one of the most influential people of the last millennium, because he gave us the proper information about how our solar system revolves around the sun. Not all of the information, of course, but enough to open the door for all that has followed in astronomy, enough to open the doors for humans to set foot on the moon, enough to explore with devices the outer reaches of our solar system and beyond.

Because Galileo is such a historic figure, NASA named a spacecraft sent to explore the planet Jupiter after him. And these astronomers back at his birthplace recently began mulling over the latest results for that historic mission to Jupiter. Among other things, the mission detected sulfuric acid on JupiterÂ's moon, Europa. Now, to hear Astronomers tell it, there are bacteria on earth that feed on sulfur, and that could be happening under EuropaÂ's icy surface.

If--mighty big if--but if that is true, could there be actual life there, too?

We donÂ't know. Which is why weÂ'll be returning to Jupiter, and elsewhere in the cosmos, repeatedly in years to come. Is there life out there? If there is, weÂ'll find it, sooner or later.