IPAC Image Processing and Data Archiving for the Palomar Transient Factory

July 2014 • 2014PASP..126..674L

Authors • Laher, Russ R. • Surace, Jason • Grillmair, Carl J. • Ofek, Eran O. • Levitan, David • Sesar, Branimir • van Eyken, Julian C. • Law, Nicholas M. • Helou, George • Hamam, Nouhad • Masci, Frank J. • Mattingly, Sean • Jackson, Ed • Hacopeans, Eugean • Mi, Wei • Groom, Steve • Teplitz, Harry • Desai, Vandana • Hale, David • Smith, Roger • Walters, Richard • Quimby, Robert • Kasliwal, Mansi • Horesh, Assaf • Bellm, Eric • Barlow, Tom • Waszczak, Adam • Prince, Thomas A. • Kulkarni, Shrinivas R.

Abstract • The Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) is a multi-epochal robotic survey of the northern sky that acquires data for the scientific study of transient and variable astrophysical phenomena. The camera and telescope provide for wide-field imaging in optical bands. In the five years of operation since first light on December 13, 2008, images taken with Mould-R and SDSS-g' camera filters have been routinely acquired on a nightly basis (weather permitting), and two different H-alpha filters were installed in May 2011 (656 nm and 663 nm). The PTF image-processing and data-archival program at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) is tailored to receive and reduce the data, and, from it, generate and preserve astrometrically and photometrically calibrated images, extracted source catalogs, and coadded reference images. Relational databases have been deployed to track these products in operations and the data archive. The fully automated system has benefited by lessons learned from past IPAC projects and comprises advantageous features that are potentially incorporable into other ground-based observatories. Both off-the-shelf and in-house software have been utilized for economy and rapid development. The PTF data archive is curated by the NASA/IPAC Infrared Science Archive (IRSA). A state-of-the-art custom web interface has been deployed for downloading the raw images, processed images, and source catalogs from IRSA. Access to PTF data products is currently limited to an initial public data release (M81, M44, M42, SDSS Stripe 82, and the Kepler Survey Field). It is the intent of the PTF collaboration to release the full PTF data archive when sufficient funding becomes available.


IPAC Authors

Vandana Desai

Senior Scientist


Carl Grillmair

Associate Scientist

George Helou

IPAC Executive Director


Harry Teplitz

Senior Scientist


Julian van Eyken

Associate Scientist