Do you want to be a ‘planetary protection officer’? You get to defend the world and the salary is probably more than what you’re on now
On a day-to-day basis, how worried are you, out of ten, about the prospect of alien contamination? Three? Two? Well, considering Nasa themselves seem pretty wary of the possibility, maybe you should consider taking it a bit more seriously. The space agency recently posted a job listing for a ‘planetary protection officer’, which is someone who would help to defend the Earth from alien bacteria. The position is assigned to the “Office of Safety and Mission Assurance for Planetary Protection” which is “concerned with the avoidance of organic-constituent and biological contamination in human and robotic space exploration”. If defending the world from bacteria sounds really easy, check out Daniel Espinosa’s film Life starring Jake Gyllenhaal, where a space exploration team find a microbe on Mars, bring it aboard, and it mutates and eats everything in sight.
The position is part of Nasa’s policies for protecting Earth from any organisms and organic constituents that may be brought back from space missions, intentionally or otherwise. Your duties would include leading Nasa’s planetary protection capability, maintaining planetary protection policies, and overseeing their implementation by Nasa’s space flight missions. So, while it may seem a little sci-fi, it’s essentially the space equivalent of not being allowed to take soil into Australia. The job pays $124,406 to $187,000, and you have to live in the US to apply.
Still interested? You’ll need, among other things, to be willing to travel frequently, possess broad engineering expertise of at least one year, have advanced knowledge of planetary protection, have a degree in physical science, engineering or mathematics (preferably an advanced one) and be willing to get drugs-tested. And, obviously, you can’t tell anyone what you get up to at work. You can apply here, but we don’t know what your responsibilties are if one of these shows up.