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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.

    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.

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    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.

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    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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