NSF Support for ZTF

ZTF is a public-private partnership, with equal support from the ZTF Collaboration and from the U.S. National Science Foundation through the Mid-Scale Innovations Program (MSIP).  ZTF will provide several community benefits during its MSIP program, which includes two years of development and a three year science survey (2017-2020).

Public Surveys

ZTF will conduct general-purpose surveys intended to enabling a wide variety of community science.  Two primary surveys are currently envisioned:

  • Northern Sky Survey: a three-day cadence survey of the visible Northern Sky (2.5-3 pi), comparable to the LSST Wide-Fast-Deep Universal Cadence.
  • Galactic Plane Survey: a 300-visit per year survey of the Northern Galactic Plane (|b| < 7 degrees; dec > -30 degrees).

These surveys will use about half of the time available to the ZTF Collaboration on the P48.

Public Data

All ZTF data will be made public eventually, as well as the complete PTF and iPTF archives.  Photometric data (images, catalogs, and lightcurves) will be released on a periodic basis.  Rapid public transient alerts will be issued for events discovered in the public surveys in the second and third survey years, after the completion of commissioning and reference image building activities.

Anticipated schedule of ZTF data releases:

2014 First release of PTF data for selected high-cadence fields
2015 Release of complete PTF archive
2016 Initial release of iPTF data
2017 ZTF first light; commissioning and reference building
2018 First ZTF data release; public transient alerts begin
2019 Public alerts of transients & transient candidate cutouts
2020 End of MSIP-funded survey; final data releases


Major releases will typically precede the yearly summer school.

Public Summer Schools

To encourage students to use ZTF and other synoptic surveys, we will host yearly Transient Universe summer schools, typically in August.  Aimed at the graduate student level, the school will provide an introduction to major topics of current research as well as hands-on instruction in time-domain methods.  Students developing skills and science interests in these areas will be well-prepared for the LSST era.

These summer schools will be complemented by an undergraduate summer research program led by ZTF MSIP Co-PI Bryan Penprase of Pomona College.  Students will participate in a week-long Observational Astronomy Institute providing instruction in in methods for photometry, spectroscopy, and time-series analysis before beginning mentored research projects, including observing experience using facilities at Pomona College, Table Mountain Observatory, and/or Mt. Palomar Observatory.  At the end of the summer, undergraduates will present their research and participate in the Transient Universe summer school.

The ZTF Community Science Advisory Committee

The ZTF CSAC advises the ZTF P.I. in order to maximize the scientific value of ZTF to the U.S. community. 

Current members of the CSAC are:

Steve Ridgway (Chair) NOAO
Marcel Agueros Columbia
Todd Boroson LCOGT
Dale Frail NRAO
Neil Gehrels GSFC
Mario Juric UW
Juna Kollmeir Carnegie
Marc Pinsonneault OSU
Allen Shafter SDSU
Paula Szkody UW