The notion of protecting things from extraterrestrial life sounds like fodder for countless movies and sci-fi books, but sometimes fantasy and reality cross. EURWeb reports that NASA is doing the unbelievable and actually taking applications for a ‘Planetary Protection Officer.’
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this very real position is that a Planetary Protection Officer is not just tasked with protecting Earth, but other planets from Earth as well. An actual former Planetary Protection Officer Michael Meyer spoke with NPR about some of the very real concerns that led to the creation of this job. Meyer notes that as researchers begin to explore places that could have life, “when you bring samples back there’s the possibility that you’re bringing something alive from another planet.”
“In which case, you ought to be cautious and keep those samples contained until you can determine whether or not there’s anything perhaps hazardous in those samples,” he said. This will require a conservative hand, as after all, there’s no way to tell whether something in a sample from outer space could be dangerous or not.
Wondering what defending the planet and beyond makes? As things turn out, quite a lot. Open to U.S. nationals and citizens, the position pays anywhere from $124,406 to $187,000 / per year. This data comes from the Federal Government’s Official Job Page, USAJobs. Note that the opening is only available until August 14th, so you better get moving if you want a chance to get a job that will make you the talk of every party. Of course, like any other job, there are requirements. A full list of required qualifications are available on NASA’s website, but to give you a bit of a preview of what to expect, key requirements are:
• Frequent travel may be required.
• This is a drug-testing designated position.
• Selectee must complete a financial disclosure statement.
• A one-year probationary period may be required.
Needless to say, this job isn’t for everyone. But with all the talk we do about employment and business, it pays sometimes to take a look at some of the lighthearted opportunities out there in the job market. Then again, should we actually make any kind of contact, a Planetary Protection Officer would likely go from exercising in theory to one of the most stressful jobs that we’ve ever seen.