Nasa is hiring someone who can defend Earth from alien contamination.
The full-time role of “planetary protection officer” will involve ensuring that humans in space do not contaminate planets and moons, as well as ensuring that alien matter does not infect Earth.
The pay is a six-figure salary: as much as $187,000 (£141,000) a year plus benefits.
The job post reads: “Planetary protection is concerned with the avoidance of organic-constituent and biological contamination in human and robotic space exploration.”
“Nasa maintains policies for planetary protection, applicable to all space flight missions that may intentionally or unintentionally carry Earth organisms and organic constituents to the planets or other solar system bodies, and any mission employing spacecraft, which are intended to return to Earth and its biosphere with samples from extraterrestrial targets of exploration.”
The three-year position – with a chance to extend it to five years – was created after the US signed the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, vowing 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”.
There is only one other full-time role like it in the world at the European Space Agency, says Catharine Conley, Nasa’s only planetary protection officer since 2014 (according to Business Insider). She is relocating to the agency’s Office of Safety and Mission Assurance.
Candidates must have at least one year’s experience as a top-level civilian government employee, and an advanced degree in physical science, engineering or mathematics. They must also have “advanced knowledge” of planetary protection.
The position also requires “demonstrated skills in diplomacy that resulted in win-win solutions during extremely difficult and complex multilateral discussions”. The new hire will also receive “secret” security clearance.