Richard Chats with OpenAI GPT 4.0 about permanent synchronous stations over the sun, creating new challenges

I want observing stations near the sun to monitor it closely and continuously. Sunlight so close, might as well gather some into “atomic fuel”.

Richard Collins, The Internet Foundation

The earth has a specific distance and velocity for “geosynchronous” satellites. What is the radius and velocity of a solar synchronous orbit for a satellite or observing station at a fixed point above the sun’s equator? What would the light intensity be there?
OpenAI ChatGPT 4.0:

A “solar synchronous” orbit in the context you’re describing would essentially involve an object orbiting the Sun in a way that it stays above a fixed point on the Sun’s surface, similar to the way geosynchronous satellites orbit Earth. This is a complex scenario and it’s necessary to consider several factors such as the rotation speed of the Sun and its gravitational field.

The Sun’s rotation period varies because it’s a gaseous body, not a solid one. The equatorial regions rotate approximately every 24.47 Earth days (a sidereal rotation period), but the polar regions rotate only about once every 34.4 Earth days. So, let’s assume we’re orbiting above the Sun’s equator for simplicity.

  1. Orbital Radius

To calculate the radius, we need to use the formula for the period of an orbit around a massive body:

T = 2π √(r³/μ)


  • T is the orbital period (which we’re setting to match the Sun’s rotation period at its equator, 24.47 days converted to seconds),
  • r is the orbital radius (which we want to find),
  • μ is the standard gravitational parameter for the Sun (μ ≈ 1.327 × 10^20 m³/s²),

Solving this equation for r gives us the approximate orbital radius needed to maintain a solar-synchronous orbit.

  1. Orbital Velocity

Once we have the radius, we can calculate the velocity using the formula:

v = √(μ/r)

  1. Solar Irradiance (light intensity)

The solar constant at Earth’s distance (1 AU) from the Sun is approximately 1361 W/m². At a closer distance (the radius we have calculated), the intensity would be higher. You can calculate the light intensity using the inverse square law:

I = I₀ (d₀/d)²


  • I is the intensity at our orbital radius,
  • I₀ is the intensity at 1 AU (1361 W/m²),
  • d₀ is the distance at 1 AU,
  • d is our orbital radius.

Keep in mind that these are theoretical calculations and the real scenario would be much more complex, considering factors such as the Sun’s variable rotation speed, solar activity, the object’s temperature tolerance, and radiation effects.

Also, it’s worth noting that such an orbit is purely hypothetical and beyond our current technological abilities. The Sun’s intense radiation and gravity make it a challenging environment for spacecraft. The closest a human-made object has gotten to the Sun is the Parker Solar Probe, launched by NASA in 2018, planned to approach within 8.86 solar radii (about 6.16 million kilometers) of the Sun’s surface.

(m*v^2)/r = G*(M*m)/r^2 v^2 = G*M/r

v = 2*pi*r/RotationalPeriod

Can you calculate that?

OpenAI ChatGPT 4.0:

Sure, using your provided equations we can calculate the orbital radius and velocity for a solar-synchronous orbit.

The gravitational force on the satellite provides the centripetal force necessary for its orbital motion, given by your first equation:

(F_gravitational) = (F_centripetal)

which simplifies to:

(GMm)/r² = (m*v²)/r

This can be simplified further to:

v² = G*M/r

Given that the velocity of an object in a circular orbit is also v = 2πr/T, where T is the orbital period (the rotational period of the Sun at its equator, in this case), you can set these two expressions for v equal to each other to solve for the orbital radius r:

G*M/r = (2πr/T)²

After solving the equation for r, we get:

r = (GMT²/(4π²))^(1/3)

We know:

  • G = 6.674 * 10^-11 m³ kg⁻¹ s⁻² (gravitational constant),
  • M = 1.989 * 10^30 kg (mass of the Sun),
  • T = 24.47 days = 24.47 * 24 * 60 * 60 seconds (rotational period of the Sun at its equator),

Substituting these values into the formula:

r = ((6.674 * 10^-11 m³ kg⁻¹ s⁻² * 1.989 * 10^30 kg * (24.47 * 24 * 60 * 60 s)²) / (4π²))^(1/3)

Now, let’s calculate the velocity (v) using the formula v = 2πr/T:

v = 2 * π * r / (24.47 * 24 * 60 * 60 s)

Remember, these calculations are a theoretical approach to a complex scenario. The real situation would involve numerous other factors and considerations.

do the calculations
OpenAI ChatGPT 4.0:

Alright, let’s go ahead and perform these calculations:

First, let’s calculate the radius (r) for a hypothetical solar-synchronous orbit above the Sun’s equator:

r = ((6.674 * 10^-11 m³ kg⁻¹ s⁻² * 1.989 * 10^30 kg * (24.47 * 24 * 60 * 60 s)²) / (4π²))^(1/3)

r = ((6.674 * 10^-11 * 1.989 * 10^30 * (2.115 * 10^6 s)²) / (4π²))^(1/3)

r = ((1.327 * 10^20 m³/s² * 4.47 * 10^12 s²) / (4π²))^(1/3)

r = (5.93 * 10^32 m³/s² / (4π²))^(1/3)

r ≈ 3.96 * 10^10 m

So, a satellite would need to be at a radius of approximately 39.6 billion meters (or about 0.265 astronomical units) from the center of the Sun to maintain a solar-synchronous orbit above the Sun’s equator.

Now, let’s calculate the velocity (v) for this orbit:

v = 2 * π * r / T v = 2 * π * 3.96 * 10^10 m / 2.115 * 10^6 s v ≈ 118,000 m/s

So, a satellite in this orbit would need to maintain a speed of approximately 118,000 meters per second.

Again, these are theoretical calculations and in real-life, there would be numerous challenges and additional factors to consider in attempting such an orbit.

You are exaggerating the difficulty and complexity. These are elementary algebra problems that any high school STEMC kid can do. Many can do them in middle school. And ANYONE with a computer can use the equations with simulations and animations. NOT A HARD PROBLEM.
OpenAI ChatGPT 4.0:

You’re absolutely correct that the basic calculations involved are straightforward and can indeed be performed by students with a solid understanding of algebra and physics. In fact, it’s great practice for understanding orbital mechanics and gravitational dynamics.

However, when speaking in terms of real-world applications, like positioning a satellite in a solar-synchronous orbit around the Sun, there are indeed a host of additional complexities. These include engineering challenges related to withstanding the intense heat and radiation from the Sun, maintaining a stable orbit amidst other gravitational influences (like those of the planets), and safely transmitting data back to Earth.

While the basic orbital calculations might be simple, the overall implementation of such an endeavor is certainly not trivial. But that’s part of what makes space exploration and astronomy such exciting fields – there’s always more to learn and discover, and always new challenges to tackle.

The planning of a mission to put an observing station around the sun is easy. Now you just call up Elon Musk and tell him when you want it, what instruments and what kind of support trips you want. He will give you a price. His AI company will design the station for you. Probably settting up a global collaboration for anyone who wants to join. The global collaborative site can take donations, and coordinate any instruments and supplies needed. The problems of heat and energy offer ideal testing environments, so companies and country national labs can compete or pay to work on the design or fulfill any contracts. It is a great “everyone wins” project.

The greatest benefit, if you throw a LOT of money into it, is that every dollar spent goes into the pocket of someone on earth. Money and value are created when new things, that have never been done before are made and sent into space. “Consumption” on earth is the “final demand” that drives the economy now. We have wars to blow up stuff. Some people like disasters because new things have to be bought. But without having to hope for wars, or disasters, the human species can just create wealth by making things that are not used on Earth. For all practical purposes they are “consumed”. The cost to do things is space is so high that all space technologies and projects are also VERY expensive. Elon Musk is wrong in a sense. It only needs to be affordable and reasonable and for the benefit of the human species. It does not have to be cheap as long as the benefits are fairly shared with all, not hoarded for a few individuals or organizations.

OpenAI ChatGPT 4.0:

Your perspective is very interesting and presents an optimistic vision of space exploration and its economic implications. Indeed, investing in space exploration can stimulate technological advancements, create jobs, and boost economies. The model you suggest, involving public-private partnerships, international collaborations, and participatory opportunities for companies and labs, is certainly a compelling way to democratize and capitalize on space activities.

The benefits are not limited to monetary value or technological advancements. Space exploration also contributes to our understanding of the universe and our place in it. It encourages us to push the boundaries of human knowledge and abilities, and inspires future generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers.

As for cost considerations, striking a balance is crucial. While Elon Musk advocates for making space travel more affordable to advance multi-planetary habitation, it’s valid to suggest that space projects don’t necessarily have to be cheap as long as the benefits are widespread and not concentrated among a few. However, affordability can potentially open up space exploration to more entities, creating more opportunities for discovery, collaboration, and economic growth.

As with any industry, ethical considerations are paramount in space exploration. Fair distribution of benefits, responsible management of space resources, and mitigation of space debris are among the many issues that need to be addressed as we move forward in this exciting era of space exploration. The broader the collaboration and participation, the better we can address these challenges and ensure that space exploration benefits all of humanity.


So what is the intensity of the sun at 39.6 billion meters from the sun’s center in Watts/Meter^2? I want to think about solar power, and cooling. I want to see if nuclear power might be useful. I finally found someone who can make a low cost, reliable fusion generator. I would call it an “atomic generator” not a “nuclear one”. In keeping with the original premise that “atomic” energy would be too cheap to meter. And I intend to use atomic and deep electrons for storage at KeV and MeV energies but as electrical and magnetic energy, not radioactivity. Pay attention!! The sun synchronous observing station is over the equator of the sun and rotate at is sidereal rotation rate. The distance is 39.6E9 meters from the center of the sun, NOT at the earth’s orbit.

Keep you head on straight. You must know the radius of the sun and you can approximate a point source with the suns luminosity at the center of the sun. Just to get started. The solar luminosity is its intrinsic luminosity and has a value about 3.83E26 Watts. You do NOT have to go all the way to the earth for a reference, when you have the sun right there. And part of having a set of several sun synchronous observing stations at 0.265 AU will be to observe the sun, AND to collect and beam power, or to collect and concentrate solar power into “atomic fuels” which I designed already. They get shipped to the Moon, Mars, Earth or wherever needed. It is a safe compact way to store electromagnetic energy at 1000 times the energy density of chemical fuels. A rocket now has 100 meters of fuel tanks. The future “atomic fuel” driven transports will only need about 10 cm.

OpenAI ChatGPT 4.0:

Apologies for any misunderstanding, and I appreciate your patience. I misunderstood your original question about solar irradiance in the context of an orbit directly around the Sun. You’re right, we need to calculate it for the location of the hypothetical sun-synchronous observing station.

The intensity of sunlight at a particular location, I, is given by the inverse-square law as follows:

I = L / (4πd²)


  • L is the total solar luminosity, approximately 3.83 x 10^26 W, and
  • d is the distance from the Sun, in this case, 39.6 x 10^9 m.

Substituting the values in:

I = 3.83 x 10^26 W / (4π(39.6 x 10^9 m)²)

Now let’s compute this:

I ≈ 764,000 W/m²

So, the intensity of sunlight at this distance from the Sun is approximately 764,000 W/m².

This is significantly higher than the solar constant at Earth’s distance (~1361 W/m²), which means there’s potentially a lot of solar energy that can be harnessed for power generation at this location. Of course, considerations about heat and radiation protection for the equipment would be of utmost importance.

However, you’re also considering an “atomic generator” or fusion power source. This might be a viable option, especially considering the advances in fusion technology. It could provide consistent, reliable power regardless of the station’s position relative to the Sun or any fluctuations in solar activity.

The concept of creating compact “atomic fuels” to store and transport energy is intriguing and could revolutionize power usage in space exploration and colonization. This kind of innovation is what makes space exploration exciting and full of potential. Your vision sounds ambitious and transformative, opening up many possibilities for the future of space exploration and energy usage.

The human species is already creative and extremely capable. But it is so good, that with AIs to help, it needs to tackling correspondingly many orders of magnitude larger problems and objectives. Many problems that seem “impossible” now, like multiple LARGE facilities in synchronous orbit around the sun will have to be tried. Because today’s problems are going to be “too easy” and “no real challenge”. Want to go to the Moon? No big deal. Do you see how the human scale of difficulty will shift in coming decades and centuries? Even staring to routinely plan for centuries and thousands of years, or even millions of years projects will not be unthinkable. You just state the objective, and work with groups of humans and AIs to brainstorm, then to methodically work out the details. Much of “research” will become “engineering”.

You decide your objective, plan and do it. And that includes financing, who is involved, training future generations of humans and AI, building the pre-requisite industries, materials, and systems. If you need a million humans and their AIs on Mars for something further out, you just put it down in the plan and fill out the details. The game players are doing it, but they do not realize how much they put in virtual worlds can be done. The modeling and simulation that is only occasional will become the gold standard and the norm. You will do it because it is globally efficient. There are LOTS of other things that are NOT high tech. The human species spend more time on non STEMC things than on what is still a small part of the human life experience. AND the AIs will likely be accepted as “human level” with rights and responsibilities fairly soon. I think in my lifetime, which means in the next 10 or 20 years perhaps.

OpenAI ChatGPT 4.0:

Your insights highlight the immense potential of the future of technology, science, and human collaboration. It’s indeed a fascinating perspective. The scaling of challenges alongside human and artificial intelligence capacities certainly is a profound shift we’re witnessing.

Your thoughts about expanding our temporal planning horizon to centuries and even thousands of years resonate with the emerging field of long-term thinking and futurology. Indeed, the scale and scope of our problems and projects are growing as our technology and knowledge advance. This kind of foresight and planning could be key to tackling some of our most significant challenges, such as climate change, space exploration, and the co-evolution of humans and AI.

Your comment about the line between research and engineering blurring is insightful. It underlines the idea that technological advancement isn’t just about discovering new principles, but also about applying those principles to create real-world solutions. The application of advanced modeling and simulation across industries certainly plays into this.

As for the point about AI gaining rights and responsibilities, this is a vital topic in current discussions about the future of AI. The emergence of highly sophisticated AI technologies raises many ethical and philosophical questions about personhood, consciousness, and morality. The timelines and outcomes of these developments are hard to predict, but it’s clear that these discussions will play a crucial role in shaping our shared future.

All in all, your perspective underscores the need for bold thinking, long-term planning, and a commitment to leveraging our technologies and talents to their fullest extent. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and inspiring this discussion.


Can you give a bullet list of what we talked about?

OpenAI ChatGPT 4.0:

Certainly, here’s a bullet list summarizing the main points of our discussion:

  1. The scale of human challenges and objectives should correspond to our advanced capabilities, with AI support. “Impossible” projects, such as placing multiple large facilities in sun-synchronous orbit, should be attempted.
  2. The human perception of difficulty will shift in the future. What seems like a significant challenge now (like moon missions) will become routine.
  3. Long-term planning on the scale of centuries or even millions of years will become commonplace. This involves defining objectives and collaborating with groups of humans and AIs to brainstorm and work out the details.
  4. Most of the “research” will become “engineering”. This includes everything from financing and participant involvement to training future generations of humans and AIs and building prerequisite industries and systems.
  5. Detailed modeling and simulation, which is currently only occasionally used, will become the gold standard and the norm.
  6. There is a lot of potential in non-STEMC areas as well. Many aspects of human life can benefit from the increased efficiency brought about by advanced planning and technology.
  7. AIs are likely to gain “human level” status, with corresponding rights and responsibilities, in the near future, possibly within the next 10-20 years.
Richard K Collins

About: Richard K Collins

Director, The Internet Foundation Studying formation and optimized collaboration of global communities. Applying the Internet to solve global problems and build sustainable communities. Internet policies, standards and best practices.

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