Guardian of the galaxy? NASA hiring 'planetary protection officer'

Friday, 04 Aug, 2017

And here's your opportunity: NASA is hiring a planetary protection officer.

According to the job description, the duties of the "protector of Earth" will include the planning and coordination of all activities related to NASA missions, and further study of all space missions. Moreover, NASA will pay a 6-figure salary (around $187,000 (£141,000)) for this role. Whoever takes the job will be in a very exclusive club, as the only other similar full-time role is at the European Space Agency.

The US, along with another 106 countries, signed the Outer Space Treaty in 1967.

Also known as the Outer Space Treaty, this is the same document that says we won't put nuclear weapons on the moon, for instance. The post is for an initial period of three years, can also be extended for an additional two.

Even though most space missions only have less than one-in-10,000 chance of contaminating an alien world, Conley said the job still demands a keen eye for detail. Why else would NASA be looking for protection?

The new hire will also receive "secret" security clearance, and he/she better keep their mouth shut. Candidates need "advanced knowledge of Planetary Protection" as well as experience overseeing nationally significant space programs and "skills in diplomacy that resulted in win-win solutions during extremely hard and complex multilateral discussion". The job of the Planetary Protection Officer is to prevent microorganisms from piggybacking on spacecraft returning to Earth from missions.

Basic qualifications for the post is broad engineering expertise along with advanced degrees in a physical science or math.

NASA has opened applications for U.S. citizens and United States nationals till August 14, 2017.

"It's a moderate level", Catharine Conley, the current NASA planetary protection officer, told Business Insider.