Aditya-L1 Scientists Prioritize Cleanliness Over Perfumes in Pursuit of Solar Mission

Sriharikota, India – In the quest to unlock the mysteries of the Sun, ISRO scientists and technicians behind India’s first solar mission, ‘Aditya-L1’, have embraced a peculiar practice – they’ve sworn off perfumes and fragrances in their workspace. The move underscores their unwavering commitment to maintaining a pristine environment during the project’s development.

The primary payload of Aditya-L1, known as the Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC), became the epicenter of this scent-free endeavor. Researchers and technicians working on VELC have gone to great lengths to ensure that even the faintest hint of fragrance does not infiltrate their workspace.

VELC’s core operations were conducted at the advanced vibration and thermotech facility located in Hoskote, near Bengaluru. Here, component-level vibration tests were carried out, a critical step in integrating detectors and optical elements. Following integration, the team proceeded with a meticulous calibration process in a pristine cleanroom environment.

The cleanroom was not just clean; it was a “sanctuary,” as Nagabushana S, the technical team head for VELC, described it. Its cleanliness standards were set remarkably high, requiring maintenance levels a hundred thousand times cleaner than a hospital intensive care unit.

To achieve this level of cleanliness, the team employed HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters, 99 percent concentrated isopropyl alcohol, and rigorous protocols. Every screw used underwent ultrasonic cleaning to ensure it was free from contamination.

Sanal Krishna, a member of the VELC technical team from IIA (Indian Institute of Astrophysics), highlighted the stringent measures taken, emphasizing that “a single particle discharge could have undone days of hard work.”

The scientists and technicians involved in the project worked in six-hour shifts to maintain maximum cleanliness in their workspace, underscoring the importance of a pristine environment for their delicate work.

Interestingly, while the team collectively recognized the significance of a sterile workspace, none had entirely abandoned their use of perfumes. One scientist suggested that the extraordinary precautions taken by the IIA scientists might be seen as an exception.

As India’s Aditya-L1 mission continues its journey to explore the Sun’s secrets, it serves as a testament to the dedication and meticulous attention to detail exhibited by the scientists and technicians who prioritize cleanliness in their quest to unlock the mysteries of the universe’s fiery star.