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Paper: The Palomar Transient Factory: High Quality Realtime Data Processing in a Cost-Constrained Environment
Volume: 495, Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems XXIV (ADASS XXIV)
Page: 197
Authors: Surace, J.; Laher, R.; Masci, F.; Grillmair, C.; Helou, G.
Abstract: The Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) is a synoptic sky survey in operation since 2009. PTF utilizes a 7.1 square degree camera on the Palomar 48-inch Schmidt telescope to survey the sky primarily at a single wavelength (R-band) at a rate of 1000-3000 square degrees a night. The data are used to detect and study transient and moving objects such as gamma ray bursts, supernovae and asteroids, as well as variable phenomena such as quasars and Galactic stars. The data processing system at IPAC handles realtime processing and detection of transients, solar system object processing, high photometric precision processing and light curve generation, and long-term archiving and curation. This was developed under an extremely limited budget profile in an unusually agile development environment. Here we discuss the mechanics of this system and our overall development approach. Although a significant scientific installation in of itself, PTF also serves as the prototype for our next generation project, the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF). Beginning operations in 2017, ZTF will feature a 50 square degree camera which will enable scanning of the entire northern visible sky every night. ZTF in turn will serve as a stepping stone to the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), a major NSF facility scheduled to begin operations in the early 2020s.
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