How Nasa's Planetary Protection Officer Prepares Coffee

August 01, 2017

How Nasa's Planetary Protection Officer Prepares Coffee

Unless you've been living under a martian rock you have probably heard the news: NASA is hiring a Planetary Protection officer. The responsibilities of protecting Earth from foreign contaminants undoubtedly comes with a serious vitae. If you think you might qualify, feel free to tip in your hat.

This position is assigned to Office of Safety and Mission Assurance for Planetary Protection. Planetary protection is concerned with the avoidance of organic-constituent and biological contamination in human and robotic space exploration.

I've been thinking a lot about this job and all it might entail, but one thing that continues to intrigue me is how might such an individual prepare their coffee? Assuming they even drink coffee. With such steep demands surely a respectable amount of caffeine is necessary.

Regardless, we can speculate as to how the new Planetary Protection Officer might prepare coffee.

Armed with what little information I have about this position from numerous media sources and the job description itself, I feel this individual can be summed up in one word...


Protecting the planet from foreign contaminates requires a heck of a lot of scrubbing bubbles. When missions return from space they must be thoroughly checked, cleaned, checked and cleaned again to make sure no foreign particulates lands on terrestrial soil. The same procedure is required for vessels leaving Earth's atmosphere as well. I won't even begin to entertain the wild fantasies of space fungus infecting the entire human race. Let's not go there.

Now that we have a persona defined, let's examine their coffee routine.

Organic robusta beans

I have to assume the PPO will select organic coffee. Why? Well, it's the purest form of coffee bean out there. By limiting the number of contaminants on the coffee crop, you produce a bean like Mother Nature intended. I'm confident they would have a bag of strong organic beans ready to go. Although often referred to as the inferior bean, our PPO would use robusta because it generally has a higher amount of caffein.

Grinder and grind

Our PPO is busy. Way too busy for a hand grinder. Although a perfectionist and very capable of delivering a mean hand grind, the PPO will opt for an electric grinder to save time. The KitchenAid KCG0702CU Burr Coffee Grinder should do nicely. A bit pricey but stainless steel construction and glass containers are must haves for our PPO. Besides, did you see the starting salary? This grinder is very capable with a 450 rpm conical burr grinder and 15 grind settings. Plus it comes in red which would add a splash of color to what is probably a very drab work environment.

Water & temperature

Water is the second most important ingredient in coffee. In fact, it's the only other ingredient in coffee where our PPO is concerned. Clean, filtered water is the only way to go. The PPO will probably use an electric kettle and aim for a water temperature of 95° C each and every time. This individual is all about precision and consistency. If they mess up, bad coffee is the least of our worries.

Coffee maker

Everything about the AeroPress screams space. It was even designed by the same fella who invented the Aerobie - hello, aerodynamics and long distance flights! We have Alan Adler to thank for the world's best frisbee and the world's best lightweight, single brew coffee maker, the AeroPress. The AeroPress also has a vacuum like brewing plunger which keeps the coffee stock free from contamination. It's easy to use and easy to clean, ensuring our PPO is always hard at work protecting the planet from alien scum!

Coffee cup

Stainless of course. No odors, stains or residue. It's easy to clean, lightweight and unbreakable. There is no way our PPO is using a Fozzie the Bear mug when hitting the hard stuff. A stainless steel coffee mug is practical and most assuredly has a place of honor atop the PPO's work desk.

The end result

A clean, delicious and perfectly calculated cup of black coffee.

They would surely scoff at the thought of cream and sugar. I'd be surprised if I'm off the mark with my assumptions. NASA's new Planetary Protection Officer is all about precision and cleanliness. I'm sure they know how let loose should the occasion arise, but when it comes to coffee, there is only one way to go, and that's "clean as a whistle".

We tip our hat to you, Planetary Protection Officer! Thank you for keeping our world safe from infectious space fungus. If you are ever in town we'd love to treat you to a cup of coffee, your way of course. 

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