He was born in Trento, where he still lives today, and has had a long and prestigious academic and scientific career, which began immediately after his honours degree in physics from Pisa’s Normale University in 1979 and a doctorate at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. He has received extensive international recognition, and is a Knight Commander of the Italian Republic, as well as receiving France’s Legion of Honour, the Vladimir Syromyatnikov Prize, the Lacchini Prize and the Space Economy Prize. He is the second Italian to be part of the Hall of Fame of the International Astronautical Federation.
From 2014 to 2018 he was the President of the Italian Space Agency (ASI). He has coordinated important research projects regarding the development of new technologies, such as the Vertex Detector (SMD) for the L3 experiment at the LEP of CERN, the AMS experiment for research into antimatter on the International Space Station, in collaboration with the Nobel prize-winner S.C.C. Ting, the European SR2S project which developed a screen to protect astronauts from cosmic rays and the Italian-Chinese Limadou project on the CSES satellite which developed innovative techniques for monitoring earthquakes from space. In 2013 he was one of the founders of the Trento Institute for Fundamental Physics and Applications (TIFPA), a new national centre of the INFN in partnership with the University of Trento, FBK and PAT-APSS. He was the President of the Commission of Astroparticle Physics at the National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN) and Vice-President of the International Astronautical Federation. He is currently a member of the board of directors of the Bruno Kessler Foundation and President of the Edoardo Amaldi Foundation.
He has always been involved in science communication, and for 8 years wrote a monthly column for the magazine Le Scienze. He is currently a columnist for La Stampa, L’Adige and La Repubblica. Battiston has organised numerous international conferences dedicated to research in sectors of the astroparticle physics and new space technologies. He is the author of more than 460 articles published in international magazines, and a frequent speaker at conferences, festivals and conventions, focusing on physics, astronomy, space exploration, and the Space Economy, with particular reference to the use of space science data as a fundamental element for the development of society.
He is a versatile writer whose works include: Fare Spazio, I miei anni all’ Agenzia Spaziale Italiana [Making Space: My Years at the Italian Space Agency] (2019), La matematica del virus [The Mathematics of the Virus] (Castelvecchi, 2020), La prima alba del cosmo [The First Dawn of the Cosmos] (Rizzoli, 2020) and L’Alfabeto della natura [The Alphabet of Nature] (Rizzoli, 2022).