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NASA Offers Six-Figure Job To Protect Alien Worlds (Photos)

NASA Offers Six-Figure Job To Protect Alien Worlds (Photos) Promo Image

NASA has a job opening for "Planetary Protection Officer." Essentially, it's to protect the Earth from aliens.

The European Space Agency is the only other place where such a job exists, reports Business Insider.

The salary that NASA is offering is started at $124,406 and went up to $187,000 a year, plus benefits.

The position is described in the advertisement at the United States government job website:

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.

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The idea of planetary protection began in 1956, when concerns regarding lunar and planetary contamination were raised at the International Astronautical Federation's VIIth Congress in Rome, according to the website of the Office of Planetary Protection, whose slogan is "all of the planets, all of the time."

The Planetary Protection Officer position was created in 1967, following the signing of the Outer Space Treaty, which stipulates that "Parties to the Treaty shall pursue studies of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, and conduct exploration of them so as to avoid their harmful contamination," as quoted by Business Insider.

NASA's current Planetary Protection Officer is Catharine Conley, who has held the position since 2014.

"This new job ad is a result of relocating the position I currently hold to the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance, which is an independent technical authority within NASA," explained Conley in an email to Business Insider.

Candidates for the job might be competing against Conley, who did not mention whether or not she will be reapplying for the position.

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Not surprisingly, being the Planetary Protection Officer requires an impressive skill set.  

According to the ad, the successful candidate will possess advanced "knowledge of Planetary Protection, its requirements and mission categories," including "demonstrated technical expertise to independently form technically sound judgments and evaluations in considerably complex situations."

One must also have experience "planning, executing, or overseeing elements of space programs of national significance."

A track record of  "diplomacy that resulted in win-win solutions during extremely difficult and complex multilateral discussions" is also necessary.

The initial appointment will be for three years, with the possibility of extending for an additional two years. Applications are being accepted from July 13 through Aug. 14.

Sources: Business Insider, USAJobs, NASA / Photo credit: Pixabay, NASA/JPL-Caltech via Business Insider, Paul E. Alers/NASA via Business Insider

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