NASA/Reid Wiseman
Exploration

Here's What It's Like to Be the Planetary Protection Officer at NASA

John Rummel, a biology professor at East Carolina University, reflects on his experiences as NASA's planetary protection officer, a job that requires a lot of science, but no alien combat.

Published On 08/07/2017
9:41 PM EDT
I I f you want a job protecting Earth from threats from outer space — or even protecting Mars from us — NASA has an opening for you — sort of. The job of planetary protection officer generated quite a bit of buzz last week, when the public learned that a role seemingly out of a science fiction novel was actually a bonafide NASA job. But the position has nothing to do with protecting Earth from little green men, but a whole lot to do with important interplanetary science.