Look out conspiracy theorists: NVIDIA is here to refute all your lighting-based arguments about the veracity of the first moon landing.
NVIDIA, one of the leading video card manufacturers, released a new line of cards recently and, to show off some of the cards’ new abilities, tackled the daunting task of accurately reproducing the lighting conditions at the time of the moon landing.
Using Unreal Engine 4 and their new Maxwell architecture, present in the GM204 GPU in the new GTX 970 and 980 cards, the team rebuilt the lunar lander, the astronauts, and the moon itself, attempting to accurately reproduce everything down to details like the way light reflects off lunar dust and how the suits themselves reflect light.
The theory goes like this: The lunar lander is positioned with the exit hatch directly opposite the sun. Despite that, astronaut Buzz Aldrin is fairly well it, rather than being shrouded in absolute darkness. He must’ve, proponents suggest, been lit by a secondary light source, like a studio light. Other aspects, such as the lack of stars in the background of shots, also play into this idea.
NVIDIA uses something called VXGI or Voxel-Based Global Illumination, to demonstrate otherwise, showing how different light sources would’ve affected conditions. In short, the team found that the white, Teflon-coated space suits are reflective enough to act as a separate light source – Neil Armstrong was taking the picture of Aldrin from outside the shadow, and his suit lit Aldrin. As for the lack of stars, the team used that global illumination to show that, due to the amount of light from the sun, both direct and reflected, the stars were drowned out.
The video certainly isn’t going to sway those committed to the cause of proving the moon landing never happened, but it’s an interesting, memorable way to show off the new card’s computing power and abilities, and it shows some of the non-gaming applications of a powerful card like this in scientific fields.