NASA is currently advertising a job vacancy for a Planetary Protection Officer. The vacancy sounds like it’s one step away from being classified as ‘Defender of the Earth’. If you thought the job title sounded cool then you will love the fact it pays up to $187k a year!
All joking aside the vacancy is a very serious post, as can be seen in the job description:
This position is assigned to Office of Safety and Mission Assurance for Planetary Protection. Planetary protection is concerned with the avoidance of organic-constituent and biological contamination in human and robotic space exploration. NASA maintains policies for planetary protection applicable to all space flight missions that may intentionally or unintentionally carry Earth organisms and organic constituents to the planets or other solar system bodies, and any mission employing spacecraft, which are intended to return to Earth and its biosphere with samples from extraterrestrial targets of exploration. This policy is based on federal requirements and international treaties and agreements.
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 NASA’s 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.
That’s some pretty hefty responsibility to have on your shoulders but if you’re still interested then you need to meet the tough qualifications as listed below:
A. Degree: physical science, engineering, or mathematics that included 24 semester hours in physical science and/or related engineering science such as mechanics, dynamics, properties of materials, and electronics.
B. A combination of education and experience – education equivalent to one of the majors shown in A above
that included at least 24 semester hours in physical science and/or related engineering science, plus appropriate experience or additional education. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree, preferably an advanced degree in engineering, physical science, or mathematics that included 24 semester hours in physical science and/or related engineering science such as mechanics, dynamics, properties of materials, or electronics.
If you fit the requirements and fancy yourself as being responsible for preventing the earth and humanity from the inevitable destruction of an extraterrestrial bacteria then you can apply for the role here.
Good luck and for all our sakes may the best possible person on the planet get the job.