Meticulous Visual Recreation Of Moon Landing Shows It Wasn't A Hoax
By using its new dynamic lighting technology, GPU manufacturer NVIDIA has graphically recreated the Apollo 11 moon landing site — and the results are crushing a number of wild claims made by conspiracy theorists.
It's All About the Voxels
VXGI allows Nvidia's game developers to better represent the way light bounces from one object to another in real time. It does this by breaking a scene's geometry into thousands upon thousands of tiny boxes called "voxels," or 3D pixels. Each of these six-sided voxels is analyzed to figure out its level of transparency (opacity) and its emittance, which is how much, and what color, light reflects from other objects in a scene.
Rebuilding Apollo 11
To graphically simulate the moon landing, the demo team gathered as much information as they could. They even researched the rivets on the lunar lander, identified the properties of dust coating the moon's surface, and measured the reflectivity of the material used in the astronauts' space suits.
"We talked to a lot of experts in the field to re-create what happened on the moon that day," noted GeForce general manager Scott Herkelman in a Fast Company article. "We re-created perfectly what they made and how the reflection would look off the suits, duct tape, aluminum foil."
Original photograph of Buzz Aldrin at right, and the computer-generated image at left.
During this stage, the team uncovered an important clue: A video clip showing Aldrin descending the ladder had a bright spot of light that appeared to move every time the camera did.
"When the glow started moving, I thought, 'Oh my gosh, that's it,'" noted team leader Mark Daly in a Nvdia blog post. A senior GPU architect suggested that it wasn't artificial light — but a reflection from Armstrong's bright white suit. Daly was skeptical, but their models were able to reproduce exactly how the light was illuminating Aldrin's suit at the precise moment Armstrong snapped his photo.
So, using the Maxwell GPU, the demo team rebuilt the scene of the moon landing in Unreal Engine 4, a game engine developed by Epic Games. They were able to show how the sun's rays — coming in from behind the ladder — bounced off the moon's surface and Armstrong's suit, to cast light on Aldrin as he stepped off the ladder.
What About the Stars?
The visual recreation also addressed a common issue brought up by conspiracy theorists: photos from the landing site don't show any stars. Fascinatingly, the demo team used Maxwell to find them.
Why Isn't the Footage Obscured by Darkness?
As Alice Truong explains in the Fast Company article:
The conspiracy theorists who question why the footage isn't obscured by darkness don't take into account how light from the sun interacts with the moon's surface. The fine lunar dust covering the moon has mirror-like properties, reflecting the sun and illuminating objects on the surface. "The sun is hitting the dust, and it's illuminating the backside of the Apollo module and astronaut," says Herkelman.
"It turns out there is a lot of information about the astronomical bodies floating out there in space," [Daly] explains. "Starting with the sun. The sun itself is 128,500 lux — that's lumens per square meter - but it turns out the moon is a crappy reflector of light." Daly discovered that the moon is only 12-percent reflective, and absorbs most of the sunlight hitting it. On the other hand, 12-percent of 128,500 lux is quite a lot. "It's the equivalent to ten 100-watt lightbulbs per square meter of light bouncing off the moon." More than enough make Aldrin visible under the lander's shadow.
The findings were particularly satisfying to Daly.
"Men lost their lives as part of the Apollo project, so it bugs me when people say it was all a hoax," he says. "People risked their lives to get to the moon."
Sources: NVIDIA, Engadget, and Fast Company. All images via NVIDIA.
From io9 @ http://io9.com/meticulous-visual-recreation-of-moon-landing-shows-it-w-1636757909
And see Apollo 20: A Space Absurdity @ http://nexusilluminati.blogspot.com/2013/03/apollo-20-space-absurdity.html
For more information about the Apollo missions see http://nexusilluminati.blogspot.com/search/label/moon%20landing
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