Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. NASA has a real job opening that involves fighting aliens. The technical name for the position, which pays a salary above $100,000, is Planetary Protection Officer. It’s the officer’s responsibility to protect Earth from alien contamination and vice versa. Sounds like something straight out of “Men In Black”!
According to the job description, the role comes with some serious responsibilities: “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 NASAs space flight missions. The PPO also supports the Safety and Mission Assurance (SMA) Technical Authority and serves as a principal advisory resource for the Chief, SMA and other senior officials on matters pertaining to planetary protection. The PPO is the Agency’s focal point for interactions with external organizations on matters related to planetary protection.”
Before you polish up your resume, know that the job requires specialized qualifications, including broad engineering expertise, advanced knowledge of Planetary Protection, demonstrated experience with space programs of national significance and demonstrated diplomacy skills.
You also must be a U.S. citizen to apply, and the job involves frequent travel.
Catherine Conley has held the position since 2014 but is relocating to the Office of Safety and Mission Insurance. Conley is one of only two people to hold such a full-time position, with the other being at the European Space Agency.
The position was created back to comply with the Outer Space Treaty of 1967.
Any space mission must have less than a one in 10,000 chance of contaminating an alien world, including making sure a robot or probe that is travelling past or photographing a planet does not cause harm, Conley explained to The Independent. The officer also ensures that something from another planet, such as Mars, does not contaminate Earth.
If you think you have what it takes, NASA is accepting applications at USAJobs.gov from through August 14.