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Leave your tin-foil hat at home: NASA needs a Planetary Protection Officer

Planetary protection includes preventing contamination from space flight missions that intend to return to Earth. (AP/Damian Dovarganes)

WASHINGTON — Tired of twiddling your thumbs in a cubicle all day? Wish your boss gave you more responsibility? Well, now’s your chance.

NASA is searching for a Planetary Protection Officer, tasked with protecting Earth from harmful contamination that could result from space exploration.

Planetary protection also entails protecting other planets from flight missions carrying Earthly contaminants to other planets or solar system bodies.

The position pays up to $187,000 a year and may require “frequent travel” to destinations undisclosed.

If you think you can prepare for this position by binge-watching “The X-Files” on Netflix, NASA has some unfortunate news for you: the qualifications include engineering expertise and “an advanced knowledge of Planetary Protection.”

Most importantly, NASA says the position requires demonstrated skills in diplomacy, but whether that diplomacy includes handling alien aggression or just negotiating with other organizations isn’t clear.

So if you want to believe — and happen to have “24 semester hours in physical science and/or related engineering science such as mechanics, dynamics, properties of materials, and electronics” under your belt — this may be the job for you.


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