If you have advanced knowledge in “Planetary Protection,” NASA may have a job just for you. On Wednesday, USA Today’s Ashley May reported that the agency “is currently looking for someone with a secret security clearance to ensure alien life, or ‘organic-constituent and biological contamination’ doesn’t make it’s way back in a space ship.”
According to the USA Today report, posted at MSN:
More than that, this person 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,” according to the job listing.
Candidates must have “advanced knowledge of Planetary Protection,” experience overseeing nationally significant space programs and have demonstrated “skills in diplomacy that resulted in win-win solutions during extremely difficult and complex multilateral discussion.” After all, protecting the planet is sure to present challenges.
At first, we thought this HAD to be a joke. Turns out, it’s for real, and if you’re a U.S. citizen or a national with a physical science, engineering, or mathematics degree and experience in the subject, you may be the person NASA wants.
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According to the official U.S. government job listing, which can be seen here:
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. Primarily the Planetary Protection Officer performs the following:
Leads planning and coordination of activities related to NASA mission planetary protection needs.
Leads independent evaluation of, and provides advice regarding, compliance by robotic and human spaceflight missions with NASA planetary protection policies, statutory requirements and international obligations.
Advises the Chief, SMA and other officials regarding the merit and implications of programmatic decisions involving risks to planetary protection objectives.
In coordination with relevant offices, leads interactions with COSPAR, National Academies, and advisory committees on planetary protection matters.
Recommends and leads the preparation of new or revised NASA standards and directives in accordance with established processes and guidelines.
In addition to the requirements listed by USA Today, the ideal candidate for the job must have:
Demonstrated skills in diplomacy that resulted in win-win solutions during extremely difficult and complex multilateral discussions. This includes building coalitions amongst organizations to achieve common goals.
Makes sense… After all, we wouldn’t want to inadvertently spark an interstellar war… Especially if we’re dealing with aliens who are purposefully trying to make Earth warmer so they can colonize it.
Since the job requires frequent travel, May asked: “Could business trips include intergalactic travel? Men in Black, is that you?”
Whoever gets the job can make between $124,406 to $187,000 annually, NASA said.
Which begs the question: Shouldn’t the right person for the job have at least a working knowledge of Klingon?
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