National / Science & Health

Abundant water likely to exist under 'moon rabbit,' Japanese research team says


Abundant water is highly likely to exist in the form of ice under Oceanus Procellarum, a lunar mare known as “moon rabbit” in Japan, a Japanese research team has said.

Although it was long thought that there was little water on the moon, recent observations by lunar orbiters have found that Earth’s satellite holds abundant water in polar areas.

But no water has been found in other areas or one meter or more below the ground, which cannot be observed by the orbiters.

Masahiro Kayama, an assistant professor at Tohoku University, and colleagues said in a research paper published in the U.S. journal Science Advances that they analyzed 13 meteorites that came from the moon to Earth and discovered a mineral called moganite in one from Oceanus Procellarum.

Moganite needs water to be created. It is the first time that the mineral has been discovered in any astronomical body other than Earth.

In the researchers’ view, meteorites containing water collided with Oceanus Procellarum and formed craters. Fragments of the meteorites and water then accumulated in the craters, and moganite was deposited there after water evaporated due to sunlight. Meanwhile, water was stored as ice deep beneath the craters’ surface.

The bulk content of subsurface ice in the area can be calculated from moganite’s solubility and other factors, they said.