Planetary Protection Engineer

Company Details

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA

Do you excel in an environment that values exploration and discovery? We have a universe of opportunities waiting for you!

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is NASA’s lead center for robotic exploration of the solar system. Our core competency is the end-to-end implementation of unprecedented robotic space missions to study Earth, the Solar System, and the Universe.

JPL, located in Pasadena, California, has a casual, campus-like environment situated on 177 acres in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and offers a work environment unlike any other: we inspire passion, foster innovation, build collaboration, and reward excellence.

We are proud to be part of NASA and Caltech, as we explore the universe and make history through new discoveries.

We aim to do things never done before and to go places few can go. We dare mighty things…do you?

This unique opportunity is part of the Mechanical Systems Engineering, Fabrication and Test Division which engages in research, technology development, and the creation of advanced mechanical, thermal, propulsion, and electronic packaging systems with expertise that spans the full breath of mechanical disciplines and is applied from architectural concept development through flight operations.

As a Planetary Protection Engineer II you will be a member of the Biotechnology & Planetary Protection Group in the Spacecraft Mechanical Engineering Section and will report to the Biotechnology & Planetary Protection group supervisor.

Lead environmental and spacecraft sampling events and conduct microbiological and molecular biological assessments for the Europa Clipper and Europa Lander Pre-Project.
Interface with Europa Clipper and Europa Lander Pre-Project engineers and project staff to establish and implement cleanliness requirements for hardware under development and participate in all phases of hardware assembly development, test and integration and flight readiness regarding efforts to measure and control biological or biomolecular contamination effects to meet requirements and report findings to project staff.
Develop and define test procedures and methods from test plans and requirements.
Lead PP research efforts to assess and characterize microbial inhabitants of spacecraft surfaces via DNA, proteomic and biochemical techniques.
Publish work in conference and/or peer reviewed papers
Note: As a temporary position, this assignment may last up to 36 months in duration with approvals based on 12 months assignments. However, please note that you are not under any employment contract and your temporary employment status can be terminated at any time with or without notice.

Required Skills:

Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology, Biochemistry, Chemical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering or equivalent with a minimum of 3 years of related experience or Master’s degree in a similar discipline with a minimum of 1 year of experience or PhD in similar discipline with 0 years’ experience.
Experience and knowledge in one or more of the following areas: microbiology, immunochemistry/antibody labeling techniques, Brucker MALDI Biotyper, advanced bioassay methods such as epifluorescent microscopy, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), nucleic acid sequence-based techniques (DNA & RNA hybridization).
Experience in culturing and characterization of spore forming bacteria and/or human flora
Experience with general microbiology techniques and knowledge in the standard techniques of general microbiology and molecular diagnostics.
Experience in nucleic acid sample preparation, extraction, PCR amplification, whole genome sequencing, and comparative whole genome analysis.
Experience in Chemical and Biochemistry analytical techniques
Ability to conduct independent research, prepare technical reports, summaries, protocols and data analyses.
Experience developing protocols and procedures for planetary protection requirements resulting in mission success
Knowledge of industry and/or academic practices and standards across a range of applications related to microbiology and spacecraft flight hardware and systems (e.g. microbial reduction modalities)
Minimum 3.0 out of 4.0 cumulative GPA.

Desired Skills:

Excellent communication (oral, written, presentation), interpersonal, negotiation and organizational skills.
Computer programming, Microsoft Access
Familiarization of bioinformatics and comparative whole genome analysis.
Experience with systems engineering processes and practices
Advanced knowledge of applicable Laboratory policies and procedures, NASA policies and procedures, and government regulations
JPL is an equal employment opportunity and affirmative action employer and will, whenever possible, actively recruit and include for employment members of underrepresented minority groups, females, disabled veterans, protected veterans, and otherwise qualified persons with disabilities. JPL will hire, transfer, and promote based on the qualifications of the individual to ensure equal consideration and fair treatment of all.

JPL is a VEVRAA Federal Contractor. For more information about “EEO is the Law” click here: 

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a federal facility. Due to rules imposed by NASA, JPL will not accept applications from citizens of designated countries unless they are Legal Permanent Residents of the U.S or have other protected status under 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3). The Designated Countries List is available at 

If you are interested in applying for employment with Jet Propulsion Laboratory and need special assistance or an accommodation to apply for a posted position, contact our Human Resources department at (818) 354-5150 or via email at

Written requests may be mailed to: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Attention: Staffing and Employment Programs, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Mail Stop T1720C, Pasadena, CA 91109

Source: LinkedIn

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