NASA released a nifty picture of Eminescu today, a crater that the spacecraft Messenger took a photo of as it passed by Mercury. Named after the national poet of Romania, MihaEminescu crateri Eminescu, who lived from 1850 to 1889.

The crater is distinctive, about 125 km (78 mi) wide and was photographed on January 14, 2008. Now this is one of the more interesting craters on Mercury, looking to be rather young compared to the others on the planet, and having a “peak ring” within the crater, which is a number of central peaks arranged in a circular pattern.

Scientists postulate the youthfulness of the crater by pointing out that there are very few later crater impacts superimposed on Eminescu. Impressive chains of secondary craters radiate away from Eminescu. These were formed by material ejected by the impact explosion which formed Eminescu itself.

Also noted by scientists were the unusual color characteristics detected by the 11-color Wide angle Camera aboard Messenger. The color signature favors a bluish tinge.

Eminescu is located just north of Mercury’s equator, neat the terminator, which is the line on the planet where sunlight ends and darkness begins.

Photo: NASA/John Hopkins university APL/Carnegie Institute