Nvidia recreates the Apollo 11 landing with real-time ray tracing

It’s the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Apollo 11 Moon landing, and Nvidia is using the anniversary to show off the power of its current GPU technology, using the RTX real-time ray tracing, which was the topic of the day at its recent GTC Conference.

Nvidia employed its latest tech to make big improvements to the Moon-landing demo it created five years ago and refined last year to demonstrate its Turing GPU architecture. The resulting simulation is a fully interactive graphic demo that models sunlight in real time, providing a cinematic and realistic depiction of the Moon landing, complete with accurate shadows, visor and metal surface reflections, and more.

Already, Nvidia had put a lot of work into this simulation, which runs on some of its most advanced graphics hardware. When the team began constructing the virtual environment, they studied the lander, the actual reflectivity of astronaut’s space suits and the properties of the Moon’s surface dust and terrain. With its real-time ray tracing, they can now scrub the sun’s relative position back and forth and have every surface reflect light the way it actually would.

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Idiot conspiracy theorists may still falsely argue that the original was a stage show, but Nvidia’s recreation is the real wizardry, potentially providing a “more real than archival” look at something only a dozen people have actually experienced.