Internet had a meltdown once it was made public that NASA is looking for an officer to ‘fight aliens’. And, of course, social media platforms were buzzing with references from Will Smith’s ‘Men in Black’ with many suggesting he is “perfect” for the job and certainly is updating his resume. The chance to earn a six-figure salary that requires frequent travel (that too into Space), a secret security clearance and the heroics of saving the Planet Earth — nothing short of a blockbuster film. So, naturally, people were excited over the moon and there’s no pun intended. But sadly, that’s not what exactly NASA meant. Yes, they are NOT hiring someone to protect the earth from Alien invasion.
“As far as protecting us from the kind of aliens you see every night on the TV, NASA’s never considered that,” Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute in California told Gizmodo, who was amused by the hype to recent NASA job posting.
Basically, NASA posted a job listing looking for a full-time “Planetary Protection Officer” to join the agency. And for the job the officer has to make sure that spacecraft from Earth don’t contaminate other worlds, and that we don’t bring back potentially dangerous “alien microbes” from outer space. Yes, alien organisms or contamination, to some extent alien life, but nothing as potshots like that of ‘Independence Day’.
Unlike the science fiction films, where the hero saves the earth, this real-life hero’s job will be protecting other planets from us.
Here’s what Tweeple have been saying:
— Erica Hill (@EricaRHill) August 3, 2017
— Judith_in_VA (@Judith_in_VA) August 3, 2017
Nasa hiring someone to protect us from Aliens? Will Smith’s CV would be tight as, ID4 & MIB. Sigourney be like, hold my beer. pic.twitter.com/QifHZScv2o
— Chris Gander (@chrisgander) August 2, 2017
— Peyton Baskins (@Peyton_Baritone) August 2, 2017
NASA: We will pay you 120,000$ a year to protect earth from aliens
— Ian Crabtree (@iancrabtree24) August 4, 2017
— Snig Bhaumik (@snigbb) August 4, 2017
— Bubbles (@MSmithBubbles) August 3, 2017
@NASA If aliens are real (and if their friendly) would it be okay for them to fall in love with a human? And make human/alien babies? 👰💚👽
— Space Queen Cherry (@naimamuhammad53) July 30, 2017
Somebody tell NASA,Aliens might be voting too #ExtraBallotsScandal
— Naked Truth (@ZuckerMuchemi) July 30, 2017
In fact, one look at the actual job listing on the US govt site and one would know it’s not so glamorous. “This position is assigned to Office of Safety and Mission Assurance for Planetary Protection. Planetary protection is concerned with the avoidance of organic-constituent and biological contamination in human and robotic space exploration,” the Space agency said in its description.
The agency further added, “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 intended 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.”
This is in regard to the 1967 international treaty on Space exploration guidelines that the US agreed to. Researchers agreed to a sort of ‘leave no trace’ policy as scientists wouldn’t know what impact an alien microbe would have on the world or vice-versa.
More than anything the PPO “is responsible for the leadership of NASA’s planetary protection capability, maintenance of planetary protection policies, and oversight of their implementation by NASA’s space flight missions,” the job description stated.
Yes, it comes with a package of $124,406 to $187,000 per year and is a permanent position with frequent travel but no, it’s not defending the world against aliens but alien contamination.