Last week, the MESSENGER team learned that the impact crater seen in the middle of this Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) image has been officially named Eminescu. The crater was named in honor of Mihai Eminescu, an accomplished and influential poet who is still considered the national poet of Romania. The MESSENGER team proposed the name to the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the authority that officially names surface features on planetary bodies.
Eminescu crater is 125 kilometers (78 miles) in diameter and can be seen just at the top of the image previously released on January 30 (PIA10384). The image shown here was acquired by the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) on January 14, 2008, and shows a portion of Mercury's surface unseen by spacecraft prior to MESSENGER's historic flyby. Eminescu is a particularly interesting crater for several reasons. Eminescu formed more recently than most of the craters on Mercury, on the grounds that there are very few later craters superposed on it. Moreover, impressive chains of secondary craters, formed by material ejected by the impact explosion that formed the crater, radiate away from Eminescu. The central peaks within the crater are arranged in a circular pattern; geologists call this a "peak ring." The bright peaks inside Eminescu exhibit unusual color characteristics in the 11-color Wide Angle Camera (WAC) images, which the MESSENGER Science Team is currently studying. They show up with a bluish tinge in the previously released false-color image of the entire planet (PIA10398); Eminescu is just north of the equator, near the day/night "terminator" in that image.
Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 108828468
These images are from MESSENGER, a NASA Discovery mission to conduct the first orbital study of the innermost planet, Mercury. For information regarding the use of images, see the MESSENGER image use policy.