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NASA Seeks Official to Oversee Planetary Protection Efforts

NASA looks for a planetary protection officer who will lead the agency’s efforts to prevent space flight missions from contaminating other planets and solar system bodies with Earth organisms and organic constituents.

The planetary protection officer will work within the office of safety and mission assurance for planetary protection and will serve for three years, with a possible two-year extension, NASA said July 13 in a USAJobs notice.

A selected candidate will oversee NASA’s planetary protection functions as well as advise senior agency officials on planetary protection issues and coordinate with external organizations on such matters, according to the notice.

Business Insider reported Tuesday Catharine Conley, NASA’s current planetary protection officer, said the agency posted the job opening after the position was relocated to the office of safety and mission assurance, an independent technical authority within NASA.

The role was created as part of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which mandates that space missions must have less than 0.01 percent chance of contaminating celestial bodies.

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