Calculation of Time on LBT

Value of LBT Time & Community Access (MODS Proposal)

We determine the value of a night of LBT time by assessing the capital and operational cost of the facility. The table below shows the actual and estimated costs associated with LBT. The cost of building the telescope and improving the local infrastructure to support LBT operations on Mt. Graham (access road, electrical service, etc.) are known well; we here elect to depreciate this capital expenditure over twenty years. The operational cost is our current estimate based on models of other facilities (Magellan and Calar Alto, in particular). The instrument development cost is an estimate of the funding from LBT partners spent on building other instruments for the telescope, which includes the 672-actuator secondary mirrors, adaptive optics sensors and control loops, an infrared camera/spectrograph, a wide-field CCD imager, two interferometers, and anticipated on-going instrument development. The value of an LBT night determined using this method is, within the uncertainties, the same value as a Gemini night (J. Mould, private communication). Also note that this value is 11.8/10 times the value of a night of Keck time (as given on the TSIP web pages); the effective diameter of the combined LBT primaries is 1.18 times that of a single Keck telescope.

LBT Capital and Operational Costs (Current Year 2004)
Capital Cost
Telescope $110M
Infrastructure $10M
Total $120M
Capital Amortization per Year (over 20 years) $6.0M
Operational Costs per Year
Telescope Operations $6.5M
Instrument Development $3M
Total Annual Costs $9.5M
Total per Year $15.5M
Net Cost per night (assumes 300 observing nights per year) $52K

Note that, according to the TSIP AO, only 50% of the requested funds need to be repaid in telescope time, since this is an instrumentation proposal. Therefore, the number of nights allocated to the community is simply 1311228/51667, which rounds to 25. Distributing these nights over three years offers scheduling convenience and gives the community access to a substantial amount of LBT time.

Last updated or reviewed February 22, 2011.