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IU Professor Named NASA Planetary Protection Officer

Pratt will serve in NASA's Office of Planetary Protection.

Earth has a new heroine and she’s based out of Bloomington.

As far as job titles go, it’s hard to beat “Planetary Protection Officer.” And that’s exactly what Lisa Pratt will be.

Pratt is an astrobiologist and the Associate Executive Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University. She is the newest in a line of NASA officials known as Planetary Protection Officers.

Pratt’s new task is to protect Earth from any foreign contaminants from other worlds.

“How do we ensure that we’re not carrying anything inside the samples or outside the containers that would inadvertently cause damage on Earth,” Pratt explains.

Pratt is also tasked with saving other planets from an alien species – us. When human spacecrafts enter the atmosphere of another world, particles from Earth can contaminate the environments we want to study.

While Pratt’s focus is now interplanetary, Indiana still has a special place in her heart.

“Bloomington is home one and I certainly hope I can keep an eye on Bloomington,” Pratt says, laughing. “So, I don’t know about the rest of the planet. It seems like a big job.”

Pratt is the eighth Planetary Protection Officer in NASA history.

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