NASA Begins Hunt for New ‘Planetary Protection Officer’

Spacecraft orbiting the Earth

NASA recently posted a job listing for a cool employment opportunity that involves the protection of Earth from contamination by aliens, something that we routinely see in sci-fi movies.

The space agency has launched a recruitment effort a planetary protection officer, which is a full-time position with a hefty compensation worth up to $187,000 per year plus benefits.

Job Description

The successful candidate for the role will be responsible for ensuring that Earth will be free from “organic-constituent and biological contamination in human and robotic space exploration.”

This type of project requires the use of equipment such as a GNSS/INS simulator – offered by firms such as CAST Navigation – to determine their efficiency before their launch.

As a planetary protection officer, the NASA employee will also oversee that humans on space flight excursions will not contaminate planets and moons in the process of performing missions. NASA will employ the officer for an initial period of three years with a chance of extension of up to five years.

First Officer

Catharine Conley has served as the first person for the job at NASA since 2014. The position requires her to make sure that the space agency remains compliant with the Outer Space Treaty of 1967.

NASA hired Conley to maintain the organization’s compliance with the treaty’s standards, which involve any form of biological contamination on Earth from outer space and vice versa.

According to Conley, the pact stated that each space mission should not have more than one in 10,000 probability of contaminating alien environment. Likewise, space missions returning to Earth from planets such as Mars should ideally not bring any foreign object that could contaminate our biosphere.


If you are a top-level civilian government employee with at least one year of experience, advanced degree in engineering, physical science, or mathematics, and an extensive knowledge of planetary protection, then you might be what NASA needs for the role.