NASA seeks employee to protect Earth from aliens


NASA is looking for a planetary protection officer.

What that means in technical terms is someone who can help with the “avoidance of organic-constituent and biological contamination in human and robotic space exploration”.

The job advert notes that “space flight missions may intentionally or unintentionally carry Earth organisms and organic constituents to the planets or other solar system bodies”.

Equally, spacecraft could return “to Earth and its biosphere with samples from extraterrestrial targets of exploration”.

The job ad says that “frequent travel may be required”, although it does not specify whether that is simply on Earth, or around the solar system too.

The outgoing planetary protection officer described Mars in 2015 as "pretty clean"
Image:The outgoing planetary protection officer described Mars in 2015 as ‘still pretty clean’

It goes without saying that anyone thinking of applying needs “advanced knowledge of planetary protection”.

They also need diplomacy skills that “resulted in win-win solutions” – plus a degree in physical science, engineering or mathematics.

The successful candidate will be paid between $124,406 and $187,000.

Perks – such as a company spacecraft – are not mentioned.

Security clearance is described as “secret”.

It is not a new post. The current holder, Catharine Conley, was presented with a pair of sunglasses on her first day in the job back in 2006 – bringing to mind Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith in Men in Black.

Dr Conley told the New York Times in 2015 that she was keen to keep Mars from becoming contaminated by anything from Earth.

“If we’re going to look for life on Mars, it would be really kind of lame to bring Earth life and find that instead,” Dr Conley said.

“So far, Mars is still pretty clean.”

If you can help keep it that way, you have until 14 August to apply.


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