Want to save the Earth? NASA posts job ad for ‘planetary protection officer’ (and it comes with a $187,000 salary)
- NASA job opening is offering $124,406 to $187,000 yearly salary for 3-5 yr job
- The space agency will be accepting applications for the position until Aug 14
- This officer works to ensure no contaminants are brought to space, or back
As the limits of human and robotic space exploration stretch further than ever before, a small group of officials tasked with ‘planetary protection’ are hard at work ensuring contaminants from Earth don’t hitch a ride to other planets, or vice versa.
Between NASA and ESA, there are just two full-time Planetary Protection Officers in the world – and now, NASA is hiring for the position.
The space agency is offering up to $187,000 salary for whoever is selected to fill the sole vacancy, and will be accepting applications until August 14.
As the limits of human and robotic space exploration stretch further than ever before, a small group of officials tasked with ‘planetary protection’ are hard at work ensuring contaminants from Earth don’t hitch a ride to other planets, or vice versa
To be eligible for the position of Planetary Protection Officer, candidates must:
- Have at least 1 year of ‘broad engineering expertise’ in a top level civilian government position
- Be a ‘recognized subject matter expert,’ with advanced knowledge of planetary protection, and demonstrate experience ‘planning, executing, or overseeing elements of space programs of national significance’
- Possess ‘demonstrated skills in diplomacy that resulted in win-win solutions during extremely difficult and complex multilateral discussions’
- Have a degree in physical science, engineering, or mathematics, or a combination of education and experience equivalent to such a degree
Currently, the title belongs to Catharine Conley, who has been NASA’s Planetary Protection Officer since 2014, Business Insider reports.
According to the job opening, which is offering $124,406 to $187,000 salary, the position is initially appointed for 3 years and has potential to extend another 2.
Whoever is chosen will be tasked with overseeing planetary protection and maintain the policies as they apply to NASA missions.
These efforts aim to ensure the prevention of any unintentional contamination.
‘Planetary protection is concerned with the avoidance of organic-constituent and biological contamination in human and robotic space exploration,’ the inquiry explains.
‘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.’
According to Business Insider, the PPO stems from the US ratification of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967.
This states that space missions must have less than 1-in-10,000 chance of contaminating the planetary bodies being explored.
The job requires frequent travel, as the PPO may have to examine instruments and gear ahead of launches.
Whoever is chosen as Planetary Protection Officer will be tasked with overseeing planetary protection and maintain the policies as they apply to NASA missions. These efforts aim to ensure the prevention of any unintentional contamination