Insight & Analysis

Defender of the planet wanted

Published: Aug 2017

NASA is looking to hire a new ‘Planetary Protection Officer’.

Do you have what it takes to safeguard planets and moons from human contamination, as well as ensuring that alien matter does not infect Earth? If so, you are exactly the person NASA is looking for.

This is because the US space agency is currently looking to hire a Planetary Protection Officer. The three-year posting carries a salary of $187,000 a year plus benefits.

“Planetary protection is concerned with the avoidance of organic-constituent and biological contamination in human and robotic space exploration,” says the job post.

“NASA maintains policies for planetary protection, applicable to all space flight missions that may intentionally or unintentionally carry Earth organisms and organic constituents to the planets or other solar system bodies, and any mission employing spacecraft, which are intended to return to Earth and its biosphere with samples from extra-terrestrial targets of exploration.”

Experience as a top-level government employee and an advanced degree in physical science, engineering or mathematics are pre-requisites for any potential protection officer. Successful candidates must also have “advanced knowledge” of planetary protection.

It is not all about saving the world, though. A Planetary Protection Officer will also have to deal with mundane tasks like managing emails, proposals and lots of reading.

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