AUG 03, 2017 6:51 AM PDT

NASA is Looking for a Planetary Protection Officer

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Space exploration is becoming a staple of modern science, which means we’re sending more landers and satellites into outer space today than ever. From a research perspective, sending these advanced spacecraft to their destination in our solar system is a great move, but there are more things to take into consideration than just what we might find.

One of the most important of them all is what could be riding along on our spacecraft. Indeed, things we send into space are teeming with microbiology that spawned right here on Earth, and those microbes could potentially contaminate their future landing sites.

An artist's impression of a Martian lander.

Image Credit: Skeeze/Pixabay

For instance, future missions to put humankind on Mars and to visit potentially habitable moons in our solar system, such as Enceladus, Europa, or Titan will need to be planned carefully to ensure that biology from Earth doesn’t hitch a ride and contaminate these environments.

If it did, it could throw false positives about what we find; or worse, it could behave invasively and negatively impact existing life forms.

Additionally, bringing spacecraft back home from other places in the solar system needs to be conducted in a similarly safe fashion. Just as we don’t want to contaminate other worlds in the solar system with Earth-based life, we don’t want to contaminate our planet with life forms that could potentially reside in the other worlds we visit.

One of the problems we face is that bacteria have already proven how it can survive in outer space, so during long trips to other asteroids, comets, moons, or planets, these bacteria will multiply and thrive until they eventually arrive at their destination, where they can wreak havoc.

Related: Life can adapt to microgravity, research finds

To help coordinate the process of sterilizing spacecraft that both leave and enter our atmosphere, NASA is hiring for a new position entitled Planetary Protection Officer, and it comes with a generous six-figure salary ranging from $124,406-$187,000.

The position opened in mid-July and will close in mid-August, so there’s still time for applicants to try their luck at the job. As you can imagine, it's not intended for the average Joe; it lists a whole host of prerequisites.

NASA wants a qualified individual with a smorgasbord of expertise in space exploration, physical science, engineering, and mathematics, as well as a solid sense of diplomacy to oversee this department to ensure its success.

As the future of space exploration appears to be taking a turn for physical landings rather than flybys, the position will be a critical one.

Source: Business Insider

About the Author
Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
AUG 18, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Stars and Black Holes immediately after Big Bang
AUG 18, 2022
Stars and Black Holes immediately after Big Bang
In a recent study published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, a team of researchers from the Uni ...
AUG 16, 2022
Chemistry & Physics
Balloons Sent from the Earth Could Detect Quakes on Venus
AUG 16, 2022
Balloons Sent from the Earth Could Detect Quakes on Venus
During the Cold War, the US military launched a secret project to spy on the Soviet Union by sending microphones attache ...
SEP 03, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Astronomers are Finding Solutions for Pesky Reflective Satellites
SEP 03, 2022
Astronomers are Finding Solutions for Pesky Reflective Satellites
Students at the University of Arizona are trying to help astronomers as reflective satellites continue to fill our night ...
OCT 12, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Moon Glass Shows Correlation Between Lunar Asteroid Impacts and Earth
OCT 12, 2022
Moon Glass Shows Correlation Between Lunar Asteroid Impacts and Earth
In a recent study published in Science Advances, an international team of researchers led by the Chinese Academy of Geol ...
OCT 18, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Astronomers Have Discovered the Heaviest Element in the Atmosphere of an Exoplanet to Date
OCT 18, 2022
Astronomers Have Discovered the Heaviest Element in the Atmosphere of an Exoplanet to Date
In a new study published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, astronomers have discovered the heaviest element ever found in ...
NOV 16, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Where Did the Planets Go?
NOV 16, 2022
Where Did the Planets Go?
A new study published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters presents a solution to some mysterious patterns that have sho ...
Loading Comments...