The two researchers, Carol Stoker and Larry Lemke, do think they may have evidence for methane in Mars’ atmosphere. Methane cannot last long without being replenished, and it’s not easy to replenish it. There are non-biological ways (for example, sunlight + C02 plus water, which can be found on Mars), but life is the easiest way we know of. As the story went, they had a secret meeting — with whom, we don’t know — and they were discussing releasing this bombshell to either coincide or predate an article submitted to Nature, a premier scientific journal.
But — and this is the important bit — there was never any meeting! Nor is there a Nature paper. —Phil “The Bad Astronomer” Plait —Basically, the [Mars] story is, now get this, a fabrication. (Bad Astronomy)
I had blogged the original report under Science Fiction. Good work, Phil!