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NASA offers generous salary for 'planetary protection officer'

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Fri, August 4, 2017  /  10:02 am
NASA offers generous salary for 'planetary protection officer'

This new position is likely to fall under the upcoming NASA expedition to Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. (Shutterstock/File)

NASA is offering a six-figure salary position with job description to defend Earth from aliens.

The position, titled “planetary protection officer”, is very real and actually very important. It involves acting to ensure that alien matter does not infect Earth and, more importantly, that humans in space do not contaminate planets and moons, reported

Human beings have long hopes to find life in space, and for years extensive studies and explorations have been conducted. In our solar system alone, there are at least five worlds other than Earth that may have the conditions to support biology, due to the discovery of water on their surfaces. These worlds include Mars, Jupiter's moons Europa and Ganymede, as well as Saturn's moon Enceladus and Pluto.

However, in doing these explorations and making these discoveries, studies must be done by sending robot probes or human beings to these foreign areas. Robots may contain trace bacteria, viruses or other biological contaminants from Earth that can become a threat to foreign life, and humans present similar threats as well. Contamination may make it impossible for researchers to identify an organism as native to the planet or a stowaway, and in more extreme scenarios, contamination on the foreign environment could prove to be lethal.

Read also: NASA picks a dozen astronauts from a pool of 3 million

NASA created the three-year position, which may extend to five years, after the US signed the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. In signing this treaty, they vowed to “pursue studies of outer space [...] and conduct exploration of them so as to avoid their harmful contamination and also adverse changes in the environment of the Earth resulting from the introduction of extraterrestrial matter”.

This new position is likely to fall under the upcoming NASA expedition to Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. Approved by Congress, the US$2.7 billion project plans to map the moon’s surface and analyze whether it could be habitable.

Traveling frequently will be part of the job, and candidates are required to have at least one year’s experience as a top-level civilian government employee. They are also required to have an advanced degree in physical science, engineering or mathematics, as well as an “advanced knowledge” of planetary protection. The new hire will receive “secret” security clearance, and are required to possess “demonstrated skills in diplomacy that resulted in win-win solutions during extremely difficult and complex multilateral discussions”.

Only open for US citizens and US nationals to apply, the position offers a pay of a six-figure salary in the amount of $187,000 a year, plus benefits. (tha/kes)

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