The Department was established in 1976 as a unit of the Central Laboratory for Space Research (now Space Research and Technologies Institute) at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.



Since its establishment until now, the Department has accomplished more than 60 research projects related with study of Bulgarian territory. By integrated use of aerospace (remote sensing) and ground-based (contact) data, morphostructural partitioning of the country was made; the geodynamics and neotectonics were studied; ring and lineament morphostructures of various origin were identified, bearing different ores and minerals (ores, minerals, oil, fresh water etc.). During the 70-ies of the last century, jointly with Russian scientists, methods for visual-instrumental deciphering of aerospace scanner images were designed and approbated. Spectral signatures were established and the information potential of multi-zone airplane images for various land cover types was determined. Methods for complex landscapegeochemical and remote sensing of technogenically loaded regions were developed. These methods were approbated on the territory of the Kurdzhali Lead-Zinc Works, the Devnya Industrial Complex, the City of Sofia, and the Kremikovtzi Metallurgical Works.

Multiple ground-based and laboratory experimental measurements were carried out to establish the spectral reflectance capacity of various types of rocks and the surface layer of the main soil types distributed on Bulgarian territory. The relevant catalogues were prepared. Empirical relationships were derived between the spectral parameters of the various types of rocks and their mineral composition and texture-structural peculiarities. Similar studies were performed on the territory of Russia, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Mongolia, Cuba, Vietnam and Middle Asia within the Work Group on Remote Sensing of the Earth under the Intercosmos International Programme. In relation with the implementation of this programme, passports of chosen-in-advance test sites and test areas on Bulgarian territory (East Rhodopes, Plovdiv, Pleven, Shoumen, Rila), were drawn whereas in them, the tasks, which may be resolved using aerospace technologies were also classified. On some test areas of these test sites Patriarch Evtimovo, Popovo, Novi Pazar, Belozem, Bolyarino, international synchronous ground-based and airplane experiments were carried out.

Members of the Department participated in the planning, preparation, conduct and processing of the data from the complex subsatellite experiments on the territory of the member-states of the Intercosmos Programme performed during the flights of international space crews under the projects Study of the Geosystems’ Dynamics Using Remote Sensing Methods, and In-Land Water Catchments: Koursk 85Russia, Telegeo 87Poland, Moesia 88Bulgaria, Carribe and Tropic-1Cuba, Gobi-Hanghai, Houbsoulgoul, Orchon, Erdem and moreMongolia, 19811984, Süβer See 83German Democratic Republic, Kuoulong and Dalat, 19761990 Vietnam, Tyan Shan, 1988-1990, Gyunesh 84Azerbaijan, TELCH 76 Czechoslovakia, Ryabinsk Russia, PchelinaBulgaria.

The complex sub-satellite experiments enlisted above were performed by laboratory-airplanes with mounted scientific equipment on board, including panchromatic and multizone cameras, scanners, as well as the Bulgarian-made15-channel airplane spectrometric system Spectrum 15 ÌÑ with operation range of 400836 nm, and radiometric system RÌ 1Ñ with operation wavelength of λ = 4 cm.

In synchrony with the airplanes’ flights, spectrometric measurements were performed using the ground-based 20-channel spectrometer ISOH 020 with work range of 400800 nm. A significant part of the conducted experiments was related with dedicated studies for agricultural purposes. They were targeted at studying the dynamics of the spectral reflectance characteristics of the main agricultural crops depending on the vegetation phase. Empirical relationships were established between the vegetation index (VI, NDVI) and some biophysical characteristics of the "soil-vegetation" system. Empirical relationships were also derived between the measured radiobrightness temperature at λ = 4 cm and soil surface moisture.

The Department also participates actively in the development and implementation of the following important scientific programmes and projects:

1. Remote Sensing Aerospace Methods for Studying Earth Resources, Ecology and Public Economy National Programme 1976–1980.

2. Remote Sensing and Aerospace Methods for Studying the Earth and Resolving Public and Economic Problems National Coordination Programme1980–1985.

3. Space–Earth National Programme1988–1990.

4. Intercosmos International Programme, Remote Sensing of the Earth Work Group, 1975–1990:

-        Scientific Programme for the mission of the first Bulgarian astronautBiosphereB Experiment, 19781979;

-        Shipka Scientific Programme for the mission of the second Bulgarian astronautGeoresource Projectthe Thrace, Moesia, Les, Balkan, Pollution, Black Sea experiments, the EARTH Global Project, as well as the development of the Therma and ParalaxZagorka equipment, 19871990;

-        Bulgaria-1300II scientific-equipment complex for remote sensing of the Earth on board the Meteor-Priroda Earth satellite1980–1985;

-        Phobos International Space Project for studying the Mars planet and its natural satellite, Phobos19821988;

-        Priroda International Space Target Project for remote sensing of the Earth on board the MIR Orbital Station – 1988–1991.

5. During the period 19941996, members of the Department participated in the CORINE Land Cover 1990 International Project for Bulgarian territory under the PHARE Programme.

6. During the recent years, work is underway on projects from the scientific-research plan of the SSTRIBAS, contracts concluded with the Scientific Research Fund at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Science of the Republic of Bulgaria, some municipalities, firms, as well as projects financed under the 6th EU Framework Programme, SEE-ERA.NET, INTAS and the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO), PROBA-V Preparatory Programme.

The results from the implemented scientific research projects have been published in 10 individual and 23 team monographs and 9 books. Over 1,500 scientific papers have been published in national or international journals, and over 30 invention patents have been granted. Members of the Department have been awarded with prestigious scientific and scientific-applied national and international distinctions and awards.



Dedicated non-profit software for processing of images and construction of geodatabases – Leica ERDAS IMAGINE Professional, Leica Photogrammetric Suite Core, ENVI 4.6, ArcGIS ArcInfo 9.2. and a Scientific Information Complex (SIC) with thematically distributed satellite and sub-satellite database for the aerospace test sites on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria.



In 2012, the scientific-research activity of the Department will develop in accordance with its mission adopted at a meeting of the Constituent Scientific Board of the SRTIBAS. It will be related with design, development, and transfer of remote sensing of the Earth technologies, geoinformation systems (GISs), and ground-based methods for study of the environment. This subject matter underlies one of the priority development lines of the SRTIBAS and it is included in Policy 2: Scientific Potential and Research Infrastructure as Part of the European Research Space. Programme 2.2: Study of Climate, Earth, and Space from the Programme for Consolidation and Development of the BAS during the Period 2012–2014 – Research Programmes and Projects”, as well as Strategic Development Lines and Priorities of the BAS during the Period 2009–2013. The Department will strive to participate actively in the establishment of a knowledge-based society and to be an active partner in the European research space through its participation in scientific-research projects and intensification of its collaboration with identical units dealing with remote sensing and GIS. Conditions will be provided to boost the academic career and professional accomplishment of the scientists of the Department. More than half on the Department’s staff list are young scientists who are targeting the field of remote sensing of the Earth and GIS technologies.