Riccardo Giacconi is an Italian Nobel Prize winning astrophysicist who laid the foundations of X-ray astronomy. He was born October 6, 1931, in Genoa, Italy. He received a PhD at the University of Milan in 1954.
He was founding director of the Space Telescope Science Institute (1981–93), and he later headed the European Southern Observatory (1993–99).
According to Wikipedia:
Since cosmic X-ray radiation is absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere, space-based telescopes are needed for X-ray astronomy. Applying himself to this problem, Giacconi worked on the instrumentation for X-ray astronomy; from rocket-borne detectors in the late 1950s and early 1960s, to Uhuru, the first orbiting X-ray astronomy satellite, in the 1970s. Giacconi's pioneering research continued in 1978 with the Einstein Observatory, the first fully imaging X-ray telescope put into space, and later with the Chandra X-ray Observatory, which was launched in 1999 and is still in operation. Giacconi also applied his expertise to other fields of astronomy, becoming the first director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, the science operations center for the Hubble Space Telescope.
Giacconi was awarded one of three shares in the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physics. The other shares of the Prize were awarded to Masatoshi Koshiba and Raymond Davis, Jr.