No matter how many videos, articles, or TV shows offer proof that we did in fact send men to the Moon in the 1960s, people still deny it ever happened. One of the conspiracy theorists’ favorite proofs that the Moon landings were faked is the images from Apollo 11. Well, graphics card maker NVIDIA is offering some interesting proof that the pictures are in fact real.
NVIDIA just launched two new graphics cards, the GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970. Both these cards boast an uncanny ability to render extremely realistic, real-time, dynamic lighting, something the company calls Voxel Global Illumination. To show off the technology, NVIDIA took on three famous lighting cases from the Apollo 11 Moon landing. In creating a hyper-realistic model of some Apollo 11 images and consulting with experts, the company not only demonstrated the power of its new technology, it gave new and interesting proof that the Moon landings weren’t faked.
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So there are three main arguments hoaxers bring against pictures of Apollo 11. The first is why objects that are in the Lunar Module’s shadow are apparently illuminated, like Buzz Aldrin climbing down to the surface in this picture. There has to be another light source.
Well, there doesn’t. Moon dust, properly called regolith, is pretty reflective, and the sunlight hitting the Moon isn’t passing through and being dulled by an atmosphere. When that unfiltered sunlight hits the regolith, it reflects almost as though off a mirror, shedding light on anything nearby, which in this case means Aldrin’s descending form. Taking these lunar constraints into consideration, NVIDIA’s model looks a lot like the real image.
But what about the stars. Shouldn’t we be able to see tons of stars from the Moon since there isn’t an atmosphere to block their light? Reflecting light is the answer to this one as well. The lunar module’s skin is by far the brightest object in this image, which means the crew had to keep the aperture of their camera pretty small to actually see anything but a big light blur. Close the aperture enough and you won’t be able to capture the light from all the stars in the lunar sky. NVIDIA’s rendering (left) of this Apollo image (right) is pretty brilliant.
The last theory NVIDIA took on was the mystery light source in footage of Buzz Aldrin climbing down the LM’s ladder.
It looks a little bit like a careless stage hand forgot to take a spotlight out of the shot. To recreate this landing moment, GeForce general manager Scott Herkelman worked with experts to recreate exactly what happened on the Moon that day.
Neil Armstrong, as commander and by virtue of his physical position inside the tiny Lunar Module, got out first. He took some contingency samples and wandered around a little while Buzz Aldrin eased his way out of the spacecraft. It was slow going for both men thanks to their bulky pressure suits, pressure suits that were white in part to help reflect sunlight to keep them cool. When Herkelman realized that Armstrong was already on the Moon when Aldrin was climbing down the ladder, it all came together. That apparently bright light is just sunlight reflecting off the commander’s suit.
So there you have it. There are plenty of arguments to prove the Apollo Moon landings were real, and NVIDIA's is another pretty neat one.