Photo of Bruno B. Rossi

Bruno B. Rossi

  • National Medal of Science
  • Physical Sciences

For fundamental contributions to physics and astronomy through his investigations into the nature and origin of cosmic rays and his initiatives that led to the direct detection of the solar wind and to the discovery of extrasolar x-ray sources.

You might know Bruno Benedetto Rossi as a key contributor to a team that discovered non-solar X-rays. Some even herald him as one of the grandfathers of X-ray astrophysics. Yet, Rossi’s lifelong work cannot be summed up so simply.

His lesser-known efforts also have implications influencing the modern day. He continuously evolved with the times, aiming at building a foundation for future generations of scientists.

In World War II, Rossi worked as a vital member of the Los Alamos Laboratory. After the war, he would set his sights towards the public good, creating improved physics education curriculum for high schools. He would go on to influence public policy geared at exploring space with scientific approaches.

A pioneer in X-ray astronomy and interplanetary plasma physics, he was also a prolific writer, dedicated teacher, decorated scientist, and generally thought of as a kind man with integrity.

After living an extraordinary life theorizing about the cosmos, it is a fitting tribute that in 1996 NASA honored Rossi by renaming its XTE satellite. It is now formally known as the Bruno B. Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer.

By Melissa Ayala