As the limits of human and robotic space exploration stretch further than ever before, a small group of officials tasked with 'planetary protection' are hard at work ensuring contaminants from Earth don't hitch a ride to other planets, or vice versa.
Between NASA and ESA, there are just two full-time Planetary Protection Officers in the world - and now, NASA is hiring for the position.
The space agency is offering up to $187,000 salary for whoever is selected to fill the sole vacancy, and will be accepting applications until August 14.
Currently, the title belongs to Catharine Conley, who has been NASA's Planetary Protection Officer since 2014, Daily Mail reports.
According to the job opening, which is offering $124,406 to $187,000 salary, the position is initially appointed for 3 years and has potential to extend another 2.
Whoever is chosen will be tasked with overseeing planetary protection and maintain the policies as they apply to NASA missions.
These efforts aim to ensure the prevention of any unintentional contamination.
'Planetary protection is concerned with the avoidance of organic-constituent and biological contamination in human and robotic space exploration,' the inquiry explains.
"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."
According to Business Insider, the PPO stems from the US ratification of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967.
This states that space missions must have less than 1-in-10,000 chance of contaminating the planetary bodies being explored.
The job requires frequent travel, as the PPO may have to examine instruments and gear ahead of launches.
These precautions are just some of the many protective measures space agencies are taking as exploration efforts continue to accelerate.
Along with the potential for contamination, some have warned that a system must be put in place to protect exploration sites from 'moon scavengers.'
In a 'sobering wake-up call,' a sample bag containing traces of moon dust from the historic Apollo 11 mission sold last month for $1.8 million, despite efforts by NASA to stop it - and a non-profit is calling on the United Nations to intervene before it's too late.
The organization, called For All Moonkind, will present its plan at the Starship Congress 2017 in Monterey, California August 7-9.