Now Hiring: A Planetary Protection Officer to Defend Earth from Alien Germs

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*Cue eerie, space-age ‘80s synth pop.*

*Cue slightly husky, old-but-not-too-old man-voice with a peculiar accent you can’t quite place.*

We are not alone.

Somewhere out there, in the vast, unending expanse that will make you feel less than insignificant if you think about it too long, aliens are waiting to infect the people of Earth with… the sniffles.

OK, so alien diseases might be so much worse than a runny nose. Or noses? How many noses does an alien have? Does it sneeze out of three places at once? Or does only one nose sneeze at a time? Is an alien sneeze-noise similar to a human sneeze-noise? Do they say ah-choo? Or is the sound more like “zorp-gorp?”

I have so many questions about alien sneezes.

Here’s the thing: we don’t know what an alien sickness looks (or sounds) like — and really, we don’t want to know, right?

(No, the answer is no. Didn’t anybody see E.T.?!)

But how do we avoid catching these extra-terrestrial germs, you ask? We rely on The Chosen One, our very own Planetary Protection Officer, to keep us safe and sniffle-free.

The problem? WE DON’T HAVE ONE. Well, currently we do, but she’s leaving soon because the position is being relocated to another office within NASA, she told Business Insider. Agency policy also requires these appointments be time-limited, lasting only up to five years.

But that’s OK, because it means there’s a pretty rad job opportunity open for anyone who’s brave enough to take on the heavy, heavy burden of keeping all of human life safe from space germs — and all of space free of human germs. (Aliens are just as afraid of us as we are of them. Maybe.)

The Best Job in the Universe… Seriously

NASA — yes, that NASA — is looking for a Planetary Protection Officer to monitor microbes.

In more technical terms, the PPO will lead the planetary protection capability and maintain department policies. They will also oversee the implementation of those policies during NASA’s space flight missions.

The Chosen One is in charge of independently evaluating and advising on both human and robotic spaceflight missions while observing both planetary protection policies and international agreement obligations.

They’ll advise the Chief (with a capital C) and the Safety and Mission Assurance on — in layman’s terms for us mere Earthlings — the outcomes and risks we’ll face if these objectives fail (are you freaking out yet?).

The PPO will also be tasked with a myriad other relevant jobs and duties that may or may not be written in alien hieroglyphs — or maybe that’s just NASA trying to weed out applicants by using fancy words that only scientists understand. (I am not a scientist, and I do not speak scientist, so I cannot translate. Some good my summer abroad in Scienceland did, amiright?)

Some Out-of-This-World Talent

To be considered for the role of Planetary Protection Officer, candidates must have some otherworldly education and experience.

A bachelor’s degree (at least) in science, engineering or mathematics is required, plus additional credit hours and experience in related mathematical or scientific fields.

You should also have relevant experience, which in this case means an advanced knowledge of planetary protection and a demonstrated ability to plan, execute and oversee space programs of “national significance.”

What? Your internship didn’t teach you how to lead space programs of national significance?

You’ll also need some demonstrated diplomacy skills, because while this is a U.S.-based job, you’ll be following guidelines laid out by international committees. Plus, if aliens do show up, you’ll probably be first in line to greet them and make peace.

The job pays in the six-figure range — between $124,406 and $187,000 per year — but I guess the exact number depends on your prior experience with protecting planets. (You know, just your casual day-to-day space stuff.)

If your resume actually checks all the aforementioned boxes, you can go here to apply for the job. But be aware —  there’s a pretty rigorous evaluation and a high security clearance required, so make sure that closet is squeaky clean and free of all alien skeletons.

Happy (alien) hunting!

And if you’re looking for a new job but your specialties aren’t quite in line with “Defender of the Universe,” then be sure to like our Jobs page on Facebook. We post awesome job opportunities there all the time!

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s counting on you to save the planet, because she can’t handle robot overlords and an alien invasion.

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