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Cassini–Huygens is a joint NASA/ESA/ASI robotic spacecraft mission currently studying the planet Saturn and its many natural satellites. The spacecraft consists of two main elements: the NASA-designed and -constructed Cassini orbiter, named for the Italian-French astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini, and the ESA-developed Huygens probe, named for the Dutch astronomer, mathematician and physicist Christiaan Huygens. The complete Cassini space probe was launched on October 15, 1997, and after a long interplanetary voyage, it entered into orbit around Saturn on July 1, 2004. On December 25, 2004, the Huygens probe was separated from the orbiter at approximately 02:00 UTC. Then, it reached Saturn's moon Titan on January 14, 2005, when it made a descent into Titan's atmosphere, and downwards to the surface, radioing scientific information back to the Earth by telemetry. This was the first landing ever accomplished in the outer solar system. On April 18, 2008, NASA announced a two-year extension of the funding for ground operations of this mission, at which point it was renamed to Cassini Equinox Mission.[1] This was again extended in February 2010 with the mission now continuing until 2017. Cassini is the fourth space probe to visit Saturn and the first to enter orbit.

16 European countries and the United States make up the team responsible for designing, building, flying and collecting data from the Cassini orbiter and Huygens probe. The mission is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the United States, where the orbiter was designed and assembled. Development of the Huygens Titan probe was managed by the European Space Research and Technology Centre, whose prime contractor for the probe was the Alcatel company in France. Equipment and instruments for the probe were supplied from many countries. The Italian Space Agency (ASI) provided the Cassini probe's high-gain radio antenna, and a compact and lightweight radar, which acts in multipurpose as a synthetic aperture radar, a radar altimeter, and a radiometer.


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