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NASA is hiring 'planetary protection officer'

Posted on Wednesday, 2 August, 2017 | Comment icon 16 comments

It is vital to avoid cross-contamination during space missions. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The new employee will be tasked with, among other things, protecting Earth from alien contamination.
The role, which is worth $187,000 a year, will initially involve ensuring that bacteria and other contaminants from the Earth do not make their way on to Mars or other planetary bodies.

"Planetary protection is concerned with the avoidance of organic-constituent and biological contamination in human and robotic space exploration," the job posting reads.

"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 new officer is likely to play a prominent role in preparing NASA's upcoming Mars rover for launch in 2020 as well as in overseeing the design of the space agency's planned mission to Europa.

Under the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, any space mission must have less than a 1 in 10,000 chance of contaminating an alien world - a rule that is particularly important when that world may harbor life.

Ensuring that a sample return mission does not contaminate the Earth is also of utmost importance.

Source: Independent | Comments (16)

Tags: NASA, Alien

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #7 Posted by Golden Duck on 2 August, 2017, 21:20
Apparently the European Space Agency is
Comment icon #8 Posted by Nonentity on 2 August, 2017, 21:39
Ensuring that a sample return mission does not contaminate the Earth is also of utmost importance.
Comment icon #9 Posted by ChaosRose on 2 August, 2017, 22:43
Yeah, but firstsomething would have to be discovered that would contaminate us.
Comment icon #10 Posted by paperdyer on 2 August, 2017, 23:32
Sounds a lot like the Nomad prime directive. Collect soil samples and sterilize.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 3 August, 2017, 8:31
Not true. It could contaminate us whether we have discovered it or not. Bacteria and viruses didn't wait millions of years to be discovered before infecting us, NASA must, therefore, work under the assumption that there is the potential for infection and prevent any chance of it happening. Discovering alien life AFTER it has wiped out most of humanity is probably not going to make you popular.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Hammerclaw on 3 August, 2017, 9:04
A world-wide pandemic from an organism or virus to which no earth-life has any resistance could decimate the entire terrestrial biome.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Effector on 5 August, 2017, 6:44
So how does one make an application for this post?
Comment icon #14 Posted by Still Waters on 5 August, 2017, 10:00
Here's one applicant we know of - I hope he makes it too
Comment icon #15 Posted by Golden Duck on 5 August, 2017, 13:10
Check post #8
Comment icon #16 Posted by smokeycat on 12 August, 2017, 13:36
Reminds me a bit ofMichael Crichton'sThe Andromeda Strain...

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