The Cassini-Huygens spacecraft, a joint NASA/ESA mission, was successfully launched by a Titan IVB/Centaur launch vehicle on 15 October 1997 09:43 UT.
Designed to study Saturn, its Rings, its Magnetosphere, its Satellites, and Titan, the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft is one of the largest, heaviest, and most complex interplanetary spacecraft ever built.
The spacecraft consists of NASA's Cassini Saturn Orbiter and the ESA's Huygens Titan Probe.
The functions of the orbiter are to carry the Huygens probe and the on-board science instruments to the Saturnian system, to serve as the platform from which the probe is launched and scientific observations are made, and to store information and relay it back to Earth.
While the orbiter continues to explore Saturn and its rings, the Huygens probe was released to parachute through the atmosphere of Titan, collecting information on the chemical composition of Titan's atmosphere, its weather and clouds, and then the surface itself.
The Radio and Plasma Wave Science (RWPS) investigation forms one of the major experiments aboard the Cassini spacecraft. Its major functions are to measure the electric and magnetic fields and electron density and temperature in the interplanetary medium and planetary magnetospheres.
The Space Systems Laboratory was involved in the implementation of data compressionin the RPWS and Prof. Balikhin is a Co-Investigator of the experiment.