NASA offering six figure salary for Planetary Protection Officer position

02 August 2017

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is looking for a  Planetary Protection Officer (PPO), who will ensure humans do not contaminate planets, moons and other objects during explorations.

Business Insider reported that the position to be vacated by current incumbent Catharine A Conley, will pay up to $187,000 plus benefits.

The selected individual will also help prevent the possible spread of alien microbes in our world.

Conley who has held the position since 2014, confirmed that the space agency was looking for her replacement.

''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,'' she told the news outlet.

According to Conley, most space missions only had less than 1-in-10,000 chance of contaminating an alien world, but the job still demanded a keen eye for detail.

''It's a moderate level,'' Conley described the difficulty of the job, reported. ''It's not extremely careful, but it's not extremely lax.''

Applicants would need to have a background in physical science, engineering or mathematics, as also a deep understanding of the planetary protection responsibilities.

Additionally, they would need a solid record in ''space programs of national significance'' and a degree of diplomatic savvy ''that resulted in win-win solutions during extremely difficult and complex multilateral discussions.''

The site describes the responsibilities of the PPO as:

  • 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.

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