NVIDIA Debunks Moon Landing Conspiracy Theory
On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon. Five later missions returned to the moon’s surface. The evidence that these lunar landings were genuine is overwhelming, including recent LRO (lunar reconnaissance orbiter) images of the lunar landing sites, showing details down to the trails the astronauts made in the lunar regolith. However, there remains to this day those who maintain that the lunar landings were a giant hoax perpetrated by the US government.
What alleged hoaxers in 1969 could not possibly have anticipated, however, was video processing technology 45 years later. Graphics chip maker, Nvidia, has produced a clever marketing campaign in which they use their Maxwell architecture based chips to render the lighting of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. They produced a video that shows in detail how they accounted for the behavior of light in the classic photo of Buzz Aldrin as he descended the ladder of the lunar lander.
Light from the sun would travel in straight lines, without the scattering of an atmosphere. However, there would also be numerous interreflections – light bouncing off objects in the field and then shining on other objects. For example, they discovered that the space suit of Neil Armstrong, which is a bright white reflective color, would have acted as a strong light source, illuminating Aldrin in the photo.
As you can see in the comparison above, the rendered image and the real photo look very similar. This demonstration obliterates the argument of moon landing conspiracy theorists that the lighting in this photo is unrealistic and is evidence for stage lighting. It would have been almost impossible for hoaxers in 1969 to have rigged a stage with lighting so that it would stand up to detailed analysis by powerful graphics computers 45 years in the future.
The video also blows a hole in another common claim of the conspiracy theorists – that photos from the lunar surface do not show stars, which should have been visible. This is a naive claim, however. The lunar surface during the day is too bright to see stars in the same way that it is too bright during the day on earth to see stars. The only difference is that the sky during the day on earth is blue, while the sky on the moon is black because there is no atmosphere to scatter the light. In the video, however, they use their graphics technology to boost the sensitivity of the photo (see above), showing that there are, in fact, stars visible in the lunar sky. They are just washed out by the far brighter lunar surface reflecting sunlight.
The Nvidia analysis is just one more piece of compelling evidence that NASA did indeed send people to the surface of the moon and return them safely to Earth. I doubt, however, that this will end the motivated reasoning of the conspiracy theorists.