There are a lot of people that are surprised that Hubble can even look at planets in our solar system, because they think of Hubble as looking back to the beginning of time or at things billions of times fainter than the eye can see. But indeed, about 15 percent of the time Hubble spends observing our own planets.
This dramatic confirmation of standing water in Mars' history builds on a progression of discoveries about that most earthlike of alien planets. This result gives us impetus to expand our ambitious program of exploring Mars to learn whether microbes have ever lived there and, ultimately, whether we can.
Like Hubble, Compton and Chandra, the new Spitzer Space Telescope will soon be making major discoveries, and, as these first images show, should excite the public with views of the cosmos like we've never had before.