How to Use World’s Most Advanced GPUs to Bust an Apollo 11 Conspiracy Theory (Video)

by Brian Caulfield

Our demo team last month used Maxwell, our new GPU architecture, to bust a well-known conspiracy theory about the Apollo 11 moon landing. Today, we’re releasing the software we used to do it.

Forty-five years ago, Neil Armstrong captured a photo of Buzz Aldrin clambering down the lunar module’s ladder. Conspiracy theorists say the photo, which shows Aldrin lit up against the dark shape of the lander, doesn’t look quite right.

Some even say legendary director Stanley Kubrick – best known for “2001: A Space Odyssey” – worked with NASA to fake the moon landings.

Not so. Our software provides proof that the iconic photograph is authentic. In a demo powered by Epic’s Unreal Engine 4 and Maxwell, we showed how light from the moon’s surface – and astronaut Neil Armstrong’s space suit – illuminated Aldrin.

But some conspiracy theorists aren’t buying it. One man has even used a cardboard box placed over asphalt and tiny models of the lander and an astronaut to recreate the landing.

You can do better. More importantly: you’ll have fun doing it.

If you’ve purchased our new Maxwell-based GeForce GTX 980 and GeForce GTX 970 GPUs, download our demo.

Moon shot: Using Maxwell and Epic’s Unreal Engine 4, we were able to recreate one of the Apollo 11 moon landing’s most iconic photographs.

You can view the scene with direct and indirect lighting. They can toggle on Armstrong to see how his spacesuit affects the play of light. Or they can shift the position of the sun or the camera. They can even adjust the camera exposure.

Guiding Light

Our demo hinges on one of the key technologies unleashed by Maxwell and Epic’s Unreal Engine 4. VXGI – or Voxel Global Illumination – shows the way light bounces from one object to another in real time. To do that, VXGI breaks a scene’s geometry into many thousands of tiny boxes called “voxels,” or 3D pixels.

The GPU analyzes the six sides of each box to determine how transparent it is, and how much and what color of light it reflects from other objects in a scene.

Using VXGI, our demo lets you reconstruct the way light moved around the Apollo 11 landing site.

Seeing More

That isn’t the only proof you’ll be able to find for the landing in our demo.

Star struck: using our demo, you can find stars skeptics say are missing by changing the exposure of the photos.

Another detail from NASA’s photos seized on by skeptics: pictures from the landing site don’t show any stars. The government left out the stars in the scene, they say, because it would be impossible to show the position of the stars from the moon.

Using our demo you can find those stars by changing the exposure of the photos.

Eyes Wide Shut

To be sure, satisfying those who think the Apollo 11 landings are a hoax will take more than software. Conspiracy theories spring from deep human biases, explains Timothy Melley, a professor at Miami University of Ohio and author of “Empire of Conspiracy: The Culture of Paranoia in Postwar America.”

Most conspiracy theorists aren’t crazy, or foolish. But theorists take a good thing – skepticism of authority in a society where everyone is selling something – and mix it up with the idea that everything is the result of a person with a plan, Melley says.

“People like to conserve the idea of a willful agent as the source of everything good and bad that happens in the world – and that’s not a good explanation,” Melley says.

So we won’t convince everyone. But with our demo, we’re putting the power to come up with a better explanation into the hands of millions of people.

Should we consider this conspiracy theory debunked? Download our demo and decide for yourself.

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  • James Baxter

    I don’t suppose you guys would release an editor-based version at any point would you? A lot of people would kill to see how this scene was put together!

  • Caleb Child

    See, this PROVES that they didn’t film the moon landing on a sound stage!
    It was all rendered in CGI!

  • Syrtax

    Yay for maya! 😀

  • Max

    good one lol

  • Brian Caulfield


  • GDT

    Kudos, NVIDIA!

  • Brian Caulfield

    Thanks. I’ll pass along your feedback!

  • Robert Hagglund

    How about sharing the UE4 project files?

  • Frank

    With GTX 970 it crashes: “rendering thread exception” after U4 logo!

  • Chase

    LOL here’s some dumbass who actually believes the moon landing was faked, LOL!

  • moonfake

    Everything is pristine. No dust on lunar module legs. No burn mark where module landed and seemingly nothing is out of place on the surface. People are sheep and that’s why 95% of the politicians they hate are re-elected. Inb4 the morons with no critical thinking skills reply…

  • Chase

    LMFAO… Did you really just say nothing was out of place on the moon? Somewhere that we had never been before that? Holy Jesus, there are some idiots out there.

  • TheLittleGreenMoonMan

    There’s no atmosphere on The Moon you dumpass, There can’t be fire in no atmoshere, firre needs air to burn.

  • THU31

    Same here, on Win 7 x64.

  • Oktawian Jasudowicz

    2 soft

  • Tom8

    As an architect, I’d love to run this stuff for some realistic renderings on my projects. Could you pass along something like….”Software should be priced at less than $500,000″? Thanks! LOL

  • boniek

    This demo is 980 only. 970 is confirmed for not being maxwell apparently.

  • Rev Lebaredian

    GTX970 is definitely Maxwell, just like GTX980. It’s just the smaller brother.

  • boniek

    I am not so sure. This demo was supposed to run on maxwell and with 980 it works but with 970 it crashes with rendering thread exception. Another conspiracy? 🙂

  • filou

    It crashes with my GTX 970 with the following error message: “rendering thread exception”.

  • token420

    Hi Chase! Notice I didn’t mention my opinion regarding the Apollo 11 missions. I am simply boycotting NVidia until this page is removed. Nobody who researches the Apollo missions is a ‘dumbass’. Take care.

  • Alex Whitehouse

    I’ve installed, clearned and re-installed several times but keep on getting the below error. Any advice appreicated as I’d love to have a Good demo to show off my Maxwell 🙂

  • Arnold Rimmer

    We know that NASA lies about ufo’s just search “NASA admits orbs exist”, just this year NASA admitted after several glowing orbs were filmed during a shuttle launch that they’ve known about these unknown phenomenon “for years”, and yet they only told us when they were forced to come up with some answer and were pushed in a corner.

    Not only that but NASA also blurs out and airbrushes plenty of footage of the Moon and Mars satellite photos that show structures that they don’t want the public seeing.

    I’ve also been personally underneath seven floating orbs, about around 4 ft in diameter, going 10-15 mph slowly only 100 ft off the ground right overhead of me and several other witnesses and we were all sober. This event happened to me about 5 or 6 years ago and after it did I quickly put together how closely the large medicine-ball sized objects that looked like seven miniature suns floating in single file formation that I had seen and how closely they resemble what was recorded back in the early 90’s over Phoenix, AZ. for several minutes when these same orbs hovered over Phoenix and were seen by hundreds of thousands of people all at once. The reaction from the government was to say it was military flares (the kind that defy gravity I guess) and to bring out someone dressed in an alien costume to make fun of it and the people who wanted answers.

    I don’t believe the lunar landings happened how we’re told and I think we’ve only gone there using technology not revealed to the public. However that is only something I think. I don’t know that for sure. But what I do know is that floating orbs of swirling plasma that float intelligently together in groups exist, for a fact.

    On the topic however, one of the biggest reasons I doubted the lunar landing is the van allen radiation belt, the logistics involved, and I’ve seen some of the pictures where you can see images are in front of the hash marks on the camera. The cameras they use have those white hash marks, well there are moon photos that show things being in front of the hash marks which is only possible from (really bad) editing.

    I also believe in 2007 when NASA was firing rockets at the moon that it was to destroy million year old architectural remains of structures left on the moon and not to “search for water” like we were told.

  • Arnold Rimmer




    It might be difficult to prove we’re being lied about the moon landings, it can be done, I’ve seen images where you can see astronauts in front of the camera’s hash-marks in some photos. NASA has edited out and covered up what it finds in space for some time now. For years they’ve been caught airbrushing and censoring Moon and Mars satellite photos. However as difficult as it is to prove the Moon landings were a hoax. Proving we’re lied about ufo’s isn’t hard at all. Just check out these videos above for the truth.

    We’re lied to about a lot of things, that much is clear.

    Also search for a video called “ufo shot at in space” to see an earth-based weapons system caught on a NASA shuttle cam trying to shoot an unknown object out of our upper atmosphere.

    If you think NASA doesn’t lie, I urge you to look up a video “NASA admits orbs exist” and hear them plainly admit in a press conference that they’ve lied about knowing about ufo’s for years.

  • DivisibleByZero

    Are sales of chips that bad that you have to bring this kind of trollbait to the table to advertise your products?

  • DrD

    The amount of info and data from flight plans to engineering sketches to first-hand account is so voluminous that a hoax would be an even greater technical accomplishment than an actual landing.

  • DrD

    There is no liquid oxygen on the lem. It burned aerozine and nitrogen tetroxide.

  • DrD

    The volume of data on the Apollo program is such that a hoax would be an even greater technical accomplishment than an actual landing. Once you read and understand some of the problems they had to solve you’ll understand that there’s no way they could have made it up. I mean you can see the actual code from the computer for goodness sakes.

  • DrD

    If it was a hoax, and they were smart enough to make fake flight plans, and computer code, and tech specs, etc, I’d think they’d be smart enough to put dust where it should be. Weird anomalies make it less likely to be a hoax. Fake is usually too perfect.