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NASA hiring a planetary protection officer to guard against alien invaders

The job description reads: "biological contamination in human and robotic space exploration."

By Brooks Hays
NASA hiring a planetary protection officer to guard against alien invaders
NASA is hiring someone to help protect Earth from aliens -- and aliens from us. Photo by NASA/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 3 (UPI) -- According to NASA, the universe needs police -- specifically immigration enforcement. The space agency is hiring a planetary protection officer to keep Earthlings safe from alien invaders.

The job is simple: prevent "biological contamination in human and robotic space exploration."

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The planetary protection officer will be tasked with keeping aliens from harming life on Earth. But in reality, the greatest alien threat comes from Earth. The new NASA position's primary responsibility will be keeping astronauts and spacecrafts from carrying Earth-borne microbes to alien worlds.

"If we're going to look for life on Mars, it would be really kind of lame to bring Earth life and find that instead," Catharine Conley, NASA's current planetary protection officer, told the New York Times in 2015.

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The job is challenging, but it's well-compensated. The salary range runs from $124,406 to $187,000.

In addition to a degree in physics, engineering or mathematics, applicants must have an "advanced knowledge of planetary protection."

Conley isn't retiring, but NASA has decided to restructure the position and move the job to NASA's Office of Safety and Mission Assurance. Conley hasn't said whether she will reapply.

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RELATED NASA diligently tracks microbes inside the International Space Station

If you think microbes can't possibly survive the trip to the moon, Mars or beyond, think again. Recent analysis revealed a variety of microbes living on and in the International Space Station.

The job isn't exactly new. The first United Nations treaty related to space travel -- signed in 1967 -- called for the space agencies to guard against interplanetary contamination. International cooperation remains an important part of the planetary protection officer's job.

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