NASA Is Looking For A 'Planetary Protection Officer', Seriously

Are you ready to be a hero?

Ok it’s time. All those years of training are finally going to pay off and you can take your rightful place within NASA as the hero this planet needs. Prepare yourself.

NASA has a job opening and it’s for a....Planetary Protection Officer.

Handout . / Reuters

Now if that doesn’t sound like the coolest job that’s literally ever existed then quite honestly you’re probably on the wrong planet anyway.

So what does this challenging new role entail? Well to put it quite simply, you’re going to be protecting the Earth from extraterrestrials.

If that sounds very suspiciously like the role of the Men in Black then don’t panic, a dark suit and glasses are not part of the job description.

Instead you’ll be making sure that as NASA starts to explore new planets we don’t start contaminating the natural environment with our presence. That could include everything from inadvertently bringing a foreign body onto a planet via one of our spacecraft or making sure that we don’t accidentally bring a deadly pathogen back to Earth.

An artist's conception of NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander.
An artist's conception of NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander.
Ho New / Reuters

It’s no surprise really that NASA is looking for someone to fill this role, space exploration is starting to pick up again and with several deep space missions planned in the next 50 years it will be crucial that protocols are in place to make sure we don’t all die of some as yet unknown organism lurking on one of Saturn’s moons.

As this job comes with a not unreasonable amount of pressure, NASA will be giving you a six-figure salary to go along with your heroic status. According to its official job posting that will start at $124,406 to $187,000 and we expect that to go up based on your subsequent performance.

We’ve also noticed that it appears as though this job as 0 promotional opportunities which actually makes complete sense. Once you’ve been the Planetary Protection Officer for Earth it’s hard to really see yourself beating that.

Now for the bad news, the qualifications needed are, well they’re quite specific:

Candidates must possess broad engineering expertise at least 1-year of which is in positions at or comparable to the GS-15 level. Must be a recognized subject matter expert possess (1) advanced knowledge of Planetary Protection, its requirements and mission categories. This includes demonstrated technical expertise to independently form technically sound judgments and evaluations in considerably complex situations; (2)demonstrated experience planning, executing, or overseeing elements of space programs of national significance. These elements include but are not limited to developing requirements, performing technical assessments, and preparing recommendations to leadership; and (3) demonstrated skills in diplomacy that resulted in win-win solutions during extremely difficult and complex multilateral discussions. This includes building coalitions amongst organizations to achieve common goals. You must provide examples as to how you meet these requirements.

Oh and you’ll need a degree in either physical science, engineering or mathematics, but we’re sure you already knew that.

You won’t be alone in your role of protecting Earth, there are two other Planetary Protection Officers in the world. One at NASA and another at the European Space Agency.

So, think you’ve got what it takes to keep the planet safe? Apply here.

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