All current wide field-of-view imaging systems introduce distortion into the image. In order to extract real data from such images (e.g., distances or area), the distortion must be quantified and removed for every use of the image. For the typical example of an all-sky image of the sky taken in the zenith (looking vertically up), resulting in an image with a circular boundary, the image is linear in azimuth and elevation angles about the camera's position. For many applications, it is most convenient when straight-line distances or areas in the image relate linearly to the real scene for all parts of the all-sky image. An all-sky image can be computationally transformed into its equivalent rectilinear image. However, this is computationally intensive and results in a significant loss of image resolution, especially away from the local zenith.
It is the aim of this project to perform the transform in real time without any loss of resolution or signal-to-noise ratio. This can be done using a suitable optical mirror design. Mirrors are essentially loss-less, and can be manufactured to much larger sizes than lenses. Hence, the light gathering power of a mirror lens, irrespective of any transform, exceeds that of a typical all-sky lens by a factor of 10 to 100 (depending on dimensions). This will make CAMS very suitable for night-vision monitoring applications, such as auroral research. Since the mirror shapes will be non-unique, an optimised design should be found.