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The first images of the Far Side of the Moon (October, 1959) as well as images of the Earth from space soon after the launch of the first artificial satellites led to building of a number of research laboratories that laid the foundation of such activities like the Earth’s resources exploration and planetary cartography.
It was already in 1961 when MIIGAiK established its corresponding Fundamental Research Laboratory at the Department of aerial photo surveying. The Laboratory was headed by Boris Nikolaevich Rodionov who was Head of the Department at that time. Jan Lvovich Ziman became his deputy. The Laboratory’s work was strictly confidential. Among the employees who started working there and it turned out that they never left the field throughout their lives were Chesnokov, Alexander Dorofeyev, Boris Dunaev, Boris Viktorovich Nepoklonov, Vladimir Kiselyov, Irina Vasilievna Isavnina, Victor Krasikov and some other experts. Generally, MIIGAiK graduates were invited to work there, although there were also experts from outside. For example, Yury Leonidovich Biryukov who had just graduated from the Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics of Lomonosov Moscow State University. The primary target of the Laboratory was mastering the peculiarities of space image processing, their gridding.
The first important work of the Laboratory in the field of planetary cartography was the processing of the first panoramas of the lunar surface transmitted to the Earth by the "Luna-9" automatic interplanetary station in the autumn of 1966. At that time, it soft landed on the lunar surface for the first time and allowed the Moon’s microrelief to be seen and examined. The results of this work were presented in the book «First Panoramas of the Lunar Surface», published by the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in 1967.
Throughout that period MIIGAiK was not yet taking participation in getting images of the Far Side of Moon by the "Luna-3" and "Zond-3" automatic interplanetary stations (1959 and 1965) and their after-processing. The work was conducted by the Sternberg Astronomical Institute under the leadership of Yu.N. Lipsky. (see : “Atlas of the Far Side of the Moon.” Part I, 1961; Part II. 1967).
However, it was right at that time when MIIGAiK on the premises of its optical-and-mechanical workshops started developing cameras for taking photos of the Far Side of the Moon as well as the Earth to be onboard of automatic stations «Zond-5,-6,-7,-8». These space vehicles were not only take photographs of the Far Side areas, but also return to the Earth, delivering the films finished. In 1968, the cameras were mounted on the automatic interplanetary stations launched to the Moon.
This event coincided in time with both reorganization of space research as a whole and changes in the Laboratory. In 1968, it was officially announced of establishing a new research institute in the structure of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, namely the Space Research Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. It was assigned to play the role of Soviet NASA in organizing and directing space research in the country. Some research laboratories directly connected to space research were offered to enter into the new institute. The MIIGAiK Laboratory was also invited to the Space Research Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Some employees led by B.N. Rodionov went over to the system of the Academy of Sciences, and the employees who remained started processing of the materials obtained by the Zond-series automatic stations. As a result of this work the third part of “the Atlas of the Far Side of the of the Moon” (1970) was prepared as well as a series of 1:500 000 scale maps on the territory of the Far Side of the Moon photographed.
In 1970, the Laboratory was transformed into a Complex Fundamental Research Self-supporting Laboratory that was headed by V.D. Bolshakov. B.V. Krasnopevtseva was his deputy.
In 1972, it together with the Laboratory of Comparative Planetology of the Space Research Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR created and issued a map of the crater Le Monnier (scale 1:50 000) next to the site of landing and travelling of the self-propelled device Lunokhod- 2 . For the first time on a map, names for small forms of the lunar relief in the vicinity of the landing site were offered. In this way on the Moon, there appeared the Crater Пологий, the promontory Cape Nea, the Rima незаметная, etc. Later on, the offer became a norm for the planetary nomenclature. In particular, names for small forms appeared in landing sites of the Apollo-type spacecraft.
In 1975, the Laboratory in cooperation with the Space Research Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR published the first domestic map of Mars (at first it was an outline map, and then relief shading was added).
The Laboratory of Planetary Cartography arose as an independent scientific direction and structural division within the structure of the Complex Fundamental Research Self-supporting Laboratory headed by V.D. Bolshakov in the late nineteen seventies.
The period from 1980 up to 1989 was the time when all the basic efforts were focused on working out the structure and contents of the first complex atlas of the planets of the terrestrial group and their moons, and later – on a few series of planned maps, tables, and diagrams.
From 1986, the laboratory began working out projections for irregular surfaces of bodies. The creation of Phobos map and Phobos globe based on a triaxial ellipsoid as a reference surface was the result of this activity. The map (1988) and the globe (1990) were shown for the first time at a session of the COSPAR in the Hague in 1991.
1990-1992, throughout these years they were compiling the edition and publishing of the “Atlas of Terrestrial Group Planets and their Moons”. The atlas included more than 70 maps and outline maps and was the first attempt to represent information available in terms of comparative planetology.
1989-1990 witnessed the compilation and editing of a «Complex Atlas of the Moon».
In 1996 (the year of Mars-96 space craft failure launch), contractual financing thanks to which the Laboratory managed to carry out its activity was completely stopped. Since that year it has been at the Department of Economics and Entrepreneurship, the Faculty of Land Management of the Moscow State University of Geodesy and Cartography basically pro bono, under the patronage of the International Cartographic Association (ICA) at first at Planetary Cartography Working Group and since 1999 at support of the ICA Commission on Planetary Cartography.
Since 1999 within the framework of the International Project under the aegis of the ICA a series of multi-language maps of planets and their moons has been created. The Dresden Technical University (Germany), Eotvos Lorand University (Hungary), University of Western Ontario (Canada) are also participating in the Project.
Under the Project “Multi-language Maps of Planets and their Moons” there have been published some maps, among them a map of Mars (1999), a map of Venus (2001), a map of the Moon (2003), a map of Mercury (2005), a map of Phobos and Deimos (2006). There has also been compiled and published “An Atlas: Astronomy. The Solar System” (2005).