The main asteroid belt encircles the inner solar system. Roughly 3.2 AU from the sun, it is thought that the asteroid belt was not formed from by a planetary collision because the total combined mass of all asteroids is far too small (not even as much as Earth’s moon).
At Redmoon Systems, our intent is to detect, track and characterize the objects in the belt using infrared sensing technologies. One of these technologies is known as Firecat Observatory, Mars Mission.
Firecat is a passive sensor system located on the surface of Mars. Miniaturized and remotely deployed, the sensor consists of a single aperture through which an infrared multi-spectral detector array can detect light reflected from the asteroids nearest to Mars.
Inspired by a NASA review panel led by Jessy Cowan Sharp of NASA Ames, our team is running simulations to determine the best configuration for Firecat Observatory Mars Mission. Factors to be considered are the number of pixels, the pointing system, the power source, and transmitter configuration.
According to our initial design study, we have determined that the signal levels from three different rings or locations with the asteroid belt will be approximately:
The low signal levels require a more sensitive detector than expected, as compared to our moon-based debris observation mission.
The following figure shows the location and field depth of the main asteroid belt.
Manned Missions such as the Mars One mission plan to place humans on Mars by 2033. The presence of humans will only further the prospects of the Firecat Mars Observatory.