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Evidence of water found beneath Mars’ surface

LOS ANGELES — The face of Mars is dotted with a maze of channels, pointing to possible ancient megafloods.

Now scientists peering below the surface have uncovered the first evidence of underground channels apparently created by flooding, a finding that is expected to further illuminate the role of water in Mars’s history.

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Using a ground-piercing radar sensor aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, a team of scientists created three-dimensional maps of an equatorial region known as Elysium Planitia and the channels beneath the plains.

Besides the contributions from rovers and landers, ‘‘our view of the red planet has largely been restricted to looking at the surface’’ from orbiting spacecraft, said lead researcher Gareth Morgan, a planetary scientist at the Smithsonian Institution.

The research, published online Thursday in the journal Science, offers a new perspective below the Martian surface and hints of past flooding at a time when the planet was mostly thought to be cold and desertlike.

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