For many countries, planetary research is an important and significant area of science. This is no less true for Kazakstan, a country nearly the size of India that stretches from the Caspian Sea to China.
The beginning of planetary research in Kazakstan, like the beginning of all astrophysical observations there, is connected closely with the names of two widely known Russian scientists, Vasilij Fessenkov and Gavriil Tikhov. Both came to Alma-Ata, the capital of Kazakstan, in 1941 to observe the solar eclipse of September 21 , and both stayed. Tikhov organized the astrobotany laboratory, officially named the Astrobotany Sector of the Kazakstan Academy of Sciences. Astrobiology, a term also proposed by Tikhov, was at that time in search of evidence for the possible existence of plant life on Mars that was adapted optically to extremely hard climate conditions. The study of the optical properties (spectral reflectivity and fluorescence in the infrared) of terrestrial plants had given some data about variability of these properties as a function of climate conditions in different geographic zones.