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January 12, 2018
Q. NASA is looking for a new planetary protection officer (PPO). Are you ready to defend Earth from alien attacks? You might want to read the job description first.
A. As given in the job posting, “'Planetary protection is concerned with the avoidance of organic-constituent and biological contamination in human and robotic space exploration…' In plain English, it's about microbes,” says Leah Crane in New Scientist magazine. NASA strives to avoid microbial contamination from Earth, since it might lead to confusion between relocated bacteria and extraterrestrial life, or even worse, it might result in Earth microorganisms overrunning the locals, “destroying our chance of making one of the greatest discoveries in history.” Of course, protection must also be taken to prevent Earth from being contaminated by alien microbes.
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