In the 21st-century, the
practice of modern astronomy and space sciences reflect the degree of
advancement of any nation ? for instance, how many observatories they
possess, how many satellites they have launched ? etc. Industrialized
countries spend hundreds of millions of dollars yearly on research in
these fields, since they realize its importance: astronomy &
astrophysics as a way to comprehend the Universe, its contents and the
physical and chemical processes taking place in it ? and consequently
our place, as humans, in this vast Universe; and, space science &
technology as a tool to understand the Earth and its surrounding
environment, and its reactions with the latter ? as a way to better
control it and make use of it: space weather, satellite meteorology,
space telecommunications, global positioning, and remote sensing ?
However, many developing
countries ? even among the most educated persons and decision-makers ?
still view astronomy & space sciences as a sort of luxury! It is
indeed true that any current investment in such sciences may not have a
direct impact on society ? though it would certainly have medium- and
long-term impacts, some space applications ? particularly for
developing countries ? cannot be underestimated on the sort-term scale,
particularly through the usage of satellite technology for disaster
management and mitigation, for example.
Moreover, Arabs &
Muslims had played a historical role in transferring astronomy from
other nations and developing it ? the roots of modern European
astronomy owe a lot to Arab & Muslim scholars. Therefore, astronomy
should not be considered as a newcomer to our corner of the World, on
the contrary, it should be viewed as a sort of revival to an ancient
science that had once flourished in our region.
With the above-mentioned
vision in mind, the Institute for Astronomy & Space Sciences was
established at al Al-Bayt University in 1994, by a Royal Decree. Let us
bare in mind that ?if we do not invest a little bit now (in astronomy-
and space science-research) we will certainly regret it later?.
Dr. Hanna Sabat