Mars could be biologically alive, geologically alive, or some combination.
Mars looks like it's reading from a Monty Python script: "Oi'm not dead yet; Oi'm getting bettah."
Planetary scientists announced on Thursday that they've found three regions on the red planet that have pumped methane into the Martian atmosphere.
The big question now: What's generating the gas? On Earth, it can come from geological processes. But it also comes from microbes. So, Mars could be biologically alive, geologically alive, or some combination.
Astrobiologists are tickled by the news -- even though they readily agree that the processes generating the gas are still unknown.
"The implications are quite exciting if it's not a strictly a geochemical process," says Frank Timmes, a professor at Arizona State University's School of Earth and Space Exploration in Tempe.
The first inklings of methane at Mars came via Europe's Mars Express Orbiter. In December 2004, members of the Mars Express science team reported that they had detected methane in the atmosphere. And the results showed that the methane was not evenly distributed. Some regions displayed higher concentrations than others.