ALIEN microbes living just below the Martian soil are responsible for a haze of methane around the Red Planet, Nasa scientists believe.
The gas, belched in vast quantities in our world by cows, was detected by orbiting spacecraft and from Earth using giant telescopes.
Nasa are today expected to confirm its presence during a briefing at their Washington HQ.
Now hold on - when NASA confirms "its" presence", will "it" be methane or microbes? Methane is old news; in fact this whole story is old news. From the BBC in 2004:
Methane has been found in the Martian atmosphere which scientists say could be a sign that life exists today on Mars.
It was detected by telescopes on Earth and has recently been confirmed by instruments onboard the European Space Agency's orbiting Mars Express craft.
Methane lives for a short time in the Martian atmosphere so it must be being constantly replenished.
There are two possible sources: either active volcanoes, none of which have been found yet on Mars, or microbes.
American media outlets are not yet reporting the story because they're honoring an "embargo," a promise to not run a story until a designated time, in this case 2 p.m. EST, when NASA is expected to hold a press conference. The Sun "broke" the embargo, prompting other British papers to follow suit.
The Daily Torygraph is a bit calmer in their embargo-breaker:
Mars methane discovery hints at presence of life
Nasa scientists have detected "plumes" of methane on Mars, possibly indicating organic activity on the Red Planet.
Large quantities of the gas - which on Earth is mostly produced by living things - were recorded by three huge telescopes during a seven year study. The level of activity was so great that at times it equalled the amount of the gas released at some of the most methane-rich locations on Earth.
Scientists say that further investigation is necessary to determine whether the gas - spotted in 2003 - was created by the biological processes of creatures such as microbes, or from volcanic activity.
"Living systems produce more than 90 per cent of Earth's atmospheric methane; the balance is of geochemical origin. On Mars, methane could be a signature of either," Nasa said in a statement.
Europe's Mars Express probe picked up possible evidence of methane on Mars in 2004, but Nasa's latest discovery has been heralded as the strongest indicator yet that the planet is able to support simple organisms.
The methane, which was detected alongside water vapour, could have been a waste product from organisms called methanogens living in water beneath underground ice, experts believe.
Prepare. The aliens are coming and they are passing gas.
IT'S ALIVE! It's also red, not dead:
Discovery of Methane Reveals Mars Is Not a Dead Planet
WASHINGTON -- A team of NASA and university scientists has achieved the first definitive detection of methane in the atmosphere of Mars. This discovery indicates the planet is either biologically or geologically active.