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Proceedings Paper

The scaling relationship between telescope cost and aperture size for very large telescopes
Author(s): Gerard Theodore van Belle; Aden Baker Meinel; Marjorie Pettit Meinel
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Paper Abstract

Cost data for ground-based telescopes of the last century are analyzed for trends in the relationship between aperture size and cost. We find that for apertures built prior to 1980, costs scaled as aperture size to the 2.8 power, which is consistent with the previous finding of Meinel (1978). After 1980, 'traditional' monolithic mirror telescope costs have scaled as aperture to the 2.5 power. The large multiple mirror telescopes built or in construction during this time period (Keck, LBT, GTC) appear to deviate from this relationship with significant cost savings as a result, although it is unclear what power law such structures follow. We discuss the implications of the current cost-aperture size data on the proposed large telescope projects of the next ten to twenty years. Structures that naturally tend towards the 2.0 power in the cost-aperture relationship will be the favorable choice for future extremely large apertures; our expectation is that space-based structures will ultimately gain economic advantage over ground-based ones.

Paper Details

Date Published: 28 September 2004
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 5489, Ground-based Telescopes, (28 September 2004); doi: 10.1117/12.552181
Show Author Affiliations
Gerard Theodore van Belle, Michelson Science Ctr. (United States)
Aden Baker Meinel, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Marjorie Pettit Meinel, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5489:
Ground-based Telescopes
Jacobus M. Oschmann Jr., Editor(s)

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