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