Wanted: Planetary Protection Officer

If you’ve ever dreamed of protecting Earth from aliens, you may have just missed your chance. A few short weeks ago, NASA was taking applications for the role of Planetary Protection Officer.

According to the job advertisement, the successful candidate would help stop Earth from being contaminated by extraterrestrial materials (such as from samples collected on missions), as well as prevent contamination from Earth on planets and moons explored by us Earthlings.

As part of the duties the advertisement said that “frequent travel may be required”, but there were no details as to where.

It sounded great, but there were some minimum requirements, including “broad engineering expertise”, and an “advanced knowledge of planetary protection.” The role’s duration was listed for an initial 3 years, with the possibility of a 2-year extension, and paid $124,406 to $187,000 per year.

There are only two of these full-time positions in the world, with the current officer, Dr. Catharine Conley appointed in 2006. Dr. Conley said she wanted to keep Mars from being contaminated by anything from Earth.

Applications closed on 14 August, so we’ll have to wait a bit to see who gets the job.