New Delhi: By now, we're sure the entire world knows about NASA's announcement regarding the interesting job they are offering.
For those who are still in the dark, the American space agency is accepting entries for the post of their official “Planetary Protection Officer” for the US space program and offering a handsome six-figure salary.
That said, the role of the 'PPO', from what we know so far, will be to ensure that humans in space do not contaminate planets and moons. Also, protection of Earth from alien matter is top priority reportedly.
However, we're about to tell you in detail about what the job really entails and why NASA is willing to pay as much as $187,000 at the person who wins the position. This is why it's worth it:
1. First things first – it's not an easy job at all. From the designation, 'planetary protection' is more or less what people have been able to glean. However, that is just the beginning. The job actually requires a much broader focus. The officer will actually be instrumental in helping NASA prevent any form of destruction to 'other worlds' just as much as they are responsible to protect our home planet. All the planets in the solar system will be within their radar.
2. Contamination of other planets along with Earth is serious business and the officer has to be extremely cautious in this regard. According to Yahoo, the concern of spreading organic matter outside of Earth was brought up as early as 1956, when members of the International Astronautical Federation suggested that we might inadvertently contaminate the moon or other planets as we explore space. Therefore, the officer in-charge will have to maintain the guidelines and procedures related to human space exploration. The PPO will be further bestowed with the responsibility of making sure that the space agency follows those guidelines.
The summary on the job listing offers a pretty good idea of why this is so important:
“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. This policy is based on federal requirements and international treaties and agreements.”
3. Coming back to Earth, our home planet will also be a big concern for the PPO, since it is just as important that we avoid the risk of organic material from other worlds mixing with our own, and for the same reasons, Yahoo reported.
4. Last, but not the least, while keeping a strict eye on NASA to ensure they follow all the rules that are in line with planetary protection, the PPO will also be the main point of contact for other agencies and organizations from around the world who are performing similar duties.
On another note, the position is for a three-year duration with the option to extend it for another two years. The 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 is currently being held by Catharine Conley. However, there is a catch if you want to apply - you either have to be a US National or a citizen.