August 02, 2017
Well, sort of. There's currently a job opening at NASA for a "planetary protection officer," a position tasked with, among other things, assuring the "avoidance of organic-constituent and biological contamination in human and robotic space exploration."
As the San Francisco Gate notes, while the Office of Planetary Protection aims to stop humans from contaminating other planets, moons and other space objects, it's also responsible for trying to stop alien microbes from spreading to Earth.
In fact, on the office's website, one of the stated goals is: "To ensure that we take prudent precautions to protect Earth’s biosphere in case life does exist elsewhere."
How much does it pay to protect the planet from potential extraterrestrial life? Pretty well, according to the listing: $124,406 to $187,000. You'll need a degree in physical science, engineering or mathematics, as well as plenty of experience.
The job opening is open until Aug. 14, and per NASA policy, whoever fills it will be time-limited to three years, with the possibility of a two-year extension.
According to Newsweek, the next three years could be an important time to be a planetary protection officer, as one of the missions planned in that timeframe is to Jupiter’s moon Europa to search for alien life.
Here are the official job responsibilities, per the listing:
• 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.
Apologies in advance to NASA's human relations department, but those interested in applying can do so here.