We have two major fears at the Cape Charles Mirror. Topping the list is new policy decisions by Town Council. Coming in a close second is the fear of being abducted by aliens. There is, however, a way to help protect the planet from alien invaders. NASA has announced a job opening for a Planetary Protection Officer. The position was created after signing the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, and NASA is one of just two space agencies to have a full-time position dedicated to the role.
So what does a PPO actually do? The job pays from $124,400 to $187,000, and here is NASA’s description:
Planetary protection is concerned with the avoidance of organic-constituent and biological contamination in human and robotic space exploration. 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 [i]ntended 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.
Basically, when we send spacecraft to other planets, the PPO helps to ensure that Earth is not contaminated by extraterrestrial life forms brought back to Earth. We also want to be sure that the vehicles and satellites sent off avoid introducing our own life forms into the ecosystem of another planet. As PPO you will be involved in many of the considerations that go into planning remote exploratory missions.