There’s a new job opening at NASA: Planetary Protection Officer who will protect the Earth from potential alien contamination. The job advertisement is up on the US government’s official employment site. It’s open to US citizens and nationals, and applications end on August 14.
The job pays handsomely — $124,406 to $187,000 per year – and comes with “secret” security clearance, Newsweek reports. The job description involves preventing astronauts and robots from getting tainted by any organic and biological materials during space travel.
The ad reads, “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. This policy is based on federal requirements and international treaties and agreements.”
The role is for an initial three-year contract, which may be extended for two more years. NASA will be planning multiple missions during this time, including one to explore Europa, Jupiter’s icy moon, for any signs of life.
The job ad further states, “The Planetary Protection Officer (PPO) is responsible for the leadership of NASA’s planetary protection capability, maintenance of planetary protection policies, and oversight of their implementation by NASA’s space flight missions.”
The officer will work with several branches of NASA, along with other organizations that are in similar areas of planetary protection. Candidates are required to have “broad engineering expertise,” a degree in either physical science, engineering or mathematics, and “skills in diplomacy that resulted in win-win solutions during extremely difficult and complex multilateral discussion.”
Candidates must also have expertise on planetary protection: “This includes demonstrated technical expertise to independently form technically sound judgments and evaluations in considerably complex situations.” Requirements for the job include frequent travel.