Suspension of Disbelief: The First Probes to Explore the Solar System

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Suspension of Disbelief: The First Probes to Explore the Solar System

Science fiction has a plethora of ideas about what happened in the past and what to expect from the future. Unfortunately, not all of those ideas are exactly plausible in reality. In Suspension of Disbelief, we’ll take a look at the best ideas from sci-fi movies, books, comics and videogames to see where (and if) they intersect with the real world.


Space travel isn’t as exciting as movies and books would have you believe. Or, more accurately, it is exciting, but in different ways.

For example, pretty much every piece of science-fiction that’s about or features space travel skips right to a time period where humanity has the technology to get between planetary bodies with relative ease. Which is fun and convenient for storytelling purposes, but it misses out on the large swath of time and effort humanity has gone through and will go through to make such manned trips possible. It may not be as glamorous as people aboard snazzy ships darting between strange and exciting planets, but the use of probes and satellites to chart the reaches of space before we head there ourselves is still a vital step.

Space travel is expensive, dangerous, and it takes a long time, so we like to know exactly where we’re going, how we’re going to get there, and what will be waiting for us before we blast off. To get most of that information, we’ve sent dozens of probes to every planet in the solar system, a lot of moons, and many asteroids to do the exploring and discovering for us. Though often overlooked, these large, flying computers are necessary if we’re ever to eventually follow them to their destinations.

Click through the gallery to see the first close-up pictures taken of each planet in our solar system and the story of the probe that captured it.

Hailing from upstate New York, Cameron Wade is a freelance writer interested in movies, videogames, comic books and more. You can find his work at