NASA is looking for a ”planetary protection officer” to protect the Earth from extraterrestrial threats.
The officer would primarily ensure biological life does not enter the Earth and Earthen life does not contaminate other planets, thereby acting as the first line-of-defense against alien invasion, albeit a less dramatic type. NASA posted the opening mid-July and is accepting application until Aug. 14.
This high-profile officer must have “advanced knowledge of Planetary Protection” and experience in “space programs of national significance” and will receive a yearly compensation from $124,406 to $187,000.
Planetary protection efforts, NASA explained, seek to learn from the invasive species blunders of the past. An example is the gigantic Nile Perch fish, introduced to Lake Victoria in the 1950s, that was responsible for the extinction of several hundred native species. Or, Kudzu, the “mile-a-minute vine” and “the vine that ate the South,” that was brought from Japan and spreads across the U.S. as fast as 150,000 acres per year.
To prevent instances such as these at a planetary level, NASA established the Office of Planetary Protection, which seeks to keep the proper organic matter inside “all of the planets, all of the time.” This means keeping our planet safe after extraterrestrial explorations, and maintaining the natural state of discovered planets so that NASA may study their properties accurately.
In the words of the current Planetary Protection Officer, Catharine A. Conley: “If we’re going to look for life on Mars, it would be really kind of lame to bring Earth life and find that instead.”
Coincidentally, the job opening was posted less than a week after Vice President Mike Pence visited NASA facilities in Cape Canaveral, Florida and touched a prohibited piece of space equipment, despite the obvious “do not touch” sign.
NASA assured its Twitter followers that the equipment was going to be washed before being added to the spacecraft anyway and not to worry.