Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade November 2001

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In 1992, traveling at a rate of 31,000 miles per hour a spacecraft made its last pass by the moon before continuing on its journey. This mission with it's 2.5 billion dollar plus price tag was being called by NASA the "most ambitious interplanetary mission of the space-shuttle era" with it's destination being the "most exotic and fascinating of the outer planets".

In 1992 Pope John Paul, in a formal announcement, reversed a decision made 350 years ago that charged a well-known scientist with violating the orders of the Inquisition. That scientist was Galileo Galilei after whom NASA named its' spacecraft. Galileo was a devoted Catholic, a gifted astronomer, philosopher, and inventor. He was also a non-conformist, who was tried and convicted for crimes against the Catholic Church. From one extreme to the other Galileo made a mark on science and the human race. He earned a place in history that will not be forgotten.

Galileo was born the oldest of 7 children to Vincenzio and Giulia Galilei. Vincenzio was a gifted musician and skilled mathematician although financially he was a failure. Galileo's mother Giulia was well educated and came from a noble family. As a musician and mathematician it was very difficult to support a family with seven children. Therefore he made his living as a wool trader. Vincenzio passed his love of music and mathematics on to his son. Vincenzio also passed on to Galileo the idea that information should not be accepted just because everyone else believed it. True learning came from experience.

Galileo's youth was very typical of his time. He was curious and intelligent. He enjoyed constructing mechanical toys simply to amuse him. Vincenzio decided that Galileo should follow in his footsteps and become a wool trader, but first he needed an education. He was...