On the 15th of June 2006, the PAMELA satellite-borne experiment was launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome and it has been collecting data since July 2006. The apparatus is comprised of a time-of-flight system, a silicon-microstrip magnetic spectrometer, a silicon-tungsten electromagnetic calorimeter, an anticoincidence system, a shower tail counter scintillator and a neutron detector. The combination of these devices allows precision studies of the charged cosmic radiation to be conducted over a wide energy range (100 MeV to 100's GeV) with high statistics. The primary scientific goal is the measurement of the antiproton and positron energy spectra in order to search for exotic sources, such as dark matter particle annihilations. PAMELA is also searching for primordial antinuclei (anti-helium), and testing cosmic-ray propagation models through precise measurements of the antiparticle energy spectrum and precision studies of light nuclei and their isotopes. Moreover, PAMELA is investigating phenomena connected with solar and earth physics. After 4 years of operation in flight, PAMELA is now delivering coherent results about spectra and chemical composition of the charged cosmic radiation, allowing scenarios of production and propagation of cosmic rays to be fully established and understood.