Cassini-Huygens (European Space Agency)
The Huygen probe is scheduled to be released from the Cassini spacecraft to descend toward Titan, Saturn’s largest moon
The Huygens probe measures 2.7 metres across and is built like a shellfish: a hard shell to protect a delicate interior from extreme temperatures experienced during the descent through the atmosphere.
Some more from the Nasa Mission Overview
In December 2004, Cassini will eject the Huygens probe. After its 22-day coast, the cone-shaped probe will descend into Titan’s cloudy atmosphere. Three sets of parachutes will deploy to slow the probe and to provide a stable platform for scientific measurements. Instruments on board will collect information about the atmosphere’s chemical composition and the clouds surrounding Titan. The data will be radioed to the Cassini orbiter, which will then relay the data to Earth.
Presumbly stunt helicopter pilots will not be required to aid in the descent
Much more information, pictures, and links here and here via the Astronomy Picture of the Day
Meanwhile on this little planet life goes on as usual 🙁 …
I was ten years old when Sputnik was launched. I have been a sentient being for the entire history of space exploration. What a wonderful time to be alive.