A short presentation provided Jenny Fleury’s perspective on the Firecat Mars Mission (via Analytical Graphics Inc) and discusses the synergies made possible by combining measurements from optical and radar systems. Basically the optical provides information that the radar network doesn’t provide, and vice versa.
Typically, the optical sensor provides spatial resolution and can be used to identify visible features. The radar can be used to obtain range and range rate (radial velocity).
What if alternate signal sources were include in the the Firecat Mars mission? One way to do this would be to deploy a space based radar payload in solar orbit just outside the asteroid belt. This mission could enable range mapping of the asteroid belt, which is a valuable endeavor because it can be used to calibrate the optical system located on mars. Once the orbits are accurately determined using the radar data, the image processing could simplified for Firecat to yield better spectral ID (noise reduction based on range information).
In other worlds the signal levels coming from the asteroids to mars remains low compared to the moon-earth sensing mode, however a significant reduction in noise levels would boost the effective signal to noise ratio, thereby improving accuracy.