Think you’ve got the steady nerves and quick thinking to save the world from an alien contamination? Then we have the job for you. NASA is hiring a “planetary protection officer” to protect Earth from foreign alien matter. You’ll be well rewarded for the unusual task, the expected salary is about $187,000 a year plus benefits.
The job doesn’t just involve keeping an eye out for harmful alien litter, other responsibilities include preventing humans to leave their messy mark on space or its moons or planets.
The job post reads: “Planetary protection is concerned with the avoidance of organic-constituent and biological contamination in human and robotic space exploration.”
[Image Source: NASA]
“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 extraterrestrial targets of exploration.”
If you are successful in getting the job you’ll hold the position for three years, with the possibility to extend it to five. The job was originally created in response to the US signing the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. By signing the document the US promised to “pursue studies of outer space ... and conduct exploration of them so as to avoid their harmful contamination and also adverse changes in the environment of the Earth resulting from the introduction of extraterrestrial matter”.
[Image Source: NASA]
If you are looking for advice on the role, there is only one other like it in the world at the European Space Agency. The job is unfortunately only open to US citizens and US nationals. You also need “advanced knowledge of Planetary Protection, its requirements and mission categories” to be considered for the role.
NASA might be on a hiring spree following the recent reinstatement of the National Space Council by President Donald Trump. The council is a body within the Executive Office of the President of the United States. Their recent move signaled there should be a lot of new activity and funding being pushed into America's Space program. The council has not been in action since 1992 when it was disbanded due to conflict between governmental heads and astronaut led NASA.
“Frequent travel may be required”
Although the job ad does state that “Frequent travel may be required”. It doesn’t exactly say if you’ll get a ride up to the ISS to take a look at what is happening up there. But speaking of contamination, the latest cargo ship to arrive at the International Space station held some pretty weird stuff amongst its2,300kg of cargo. Of course, a lot of space food was sent up as well as materials for repairs and care packages from family and friends back on earth but there were also some unusual animals. Flat worms are now living with the international astronauts. Research on the parasitic invertebrates will provide information on how humans could potentially heal themselves in space. That's, not the only new animals up there. Fruit flies are now part of the crew as well, being used in another research project on immune systems.