NASA recently received a lot of attention after it announced it was looking for a Planetary Protection Officer. On Monday, the agency announced it received a heartwarming application from a 9-year-old boy from New Jersey.

The job opening has generated a lot of excitement, although not for the right reasons. The Planetary Protection Officer is tasked with preventing astronauts from bringing alien microbes or biological contaminants from space back to Earth, or vice versa.

NASA recently received a lot of attention after it announced it was looking for a Planetary Protection Officer. Image credit: IGN
NASA recently received a lot of attention after it announced it was looking for a Planetary Protection Officer. Image credit: IGN

However, most media outlets described the position as an officer that would “save” or protect Earth from aliens. Consequently, the story resonated with thousands of people, and fourth-grader Jack Davis was one of them.

Self-proclaimed Guardian of the Galaxy applied because he can ‘learn to think like an alien’

In a letter, dated August 3, Jack addressed NASA and applied for the Planetary Protection Officer job, as he considered that he was “fit for the job.” NASA’s Planetary Science Director Jim Green received his letter and actually sent one in response.

“At NASA, we love to teach kids about space and inspire them to be the next generation of explorers,” said Green, according to a statement. “Think of it as gravity assist – a boost that may positively and forever change a person’s course in life, and our footprint in the universe.”

In his letter, Jack tells NASA that he may be nine, but he’s fit for the job, and he goes on to cite the reasons why he’s fit for it.

“One of the reasons is my sister says I am an alien,” he wrote. “Also, I have seen almost all the space and aliens movie I can see. I have also seen the show Marvel Agents of Shield.”

Jack noted that, however, he hasn’t been able to see the “Men in Black” movies, but he hoped to do so soon. Plus, he added that he’s great with video games. And most importantly, he stressed that he’s young so he can “learn to think like an alien,” before signing the letter as “Jack Davis, Guardian of the Galaxy.”

Jack’s dad: ‘He’s pretty sure he’ll get the job’

Green sent out a letter to Jack, too, in which he praises him for being a Guardian of the Galaxy and for being interested in becoming a NASA Planetary Protection Officer. He noted that the work is very “cool” and very important.

He also explained what a Planetary Protection Officer does: protecting Earth from tiny microbes when they bring back samples from the Moon, Mars, or asteroids. Green stressed that the job is also about protecting other planets and moons from our germs as they responsibly explore the Solar System.

Image credit: The Pitcher
Image credit: The Pitcher

Green finishes the letter by encouraging Jack to study hard at school so they can see him working at NASA in the future. But NASA didn’t stop there, as Jack also had the honor to receive a phone call from the agency’s Planetary Research Director, Jonathan Rall, who congratulated him on his interest in the position.

In an interview, Jack told ABC News that he applied for the job because it would be “really cool” to work for NASA. He also said he felt like he was the only one who really wanted a job a NASA that young.

Jack’s father, Bryan Davis, wrote an email to NASA today and said that they’re all big fans of the agency and that he posted a photo of his son’s letter on Facebook.

“Jack, of course, is pretty sure he’ll get the job,” Davis wrote in the email to NASA, according to ABC News. “I’m trying to manage expectations with the hope he might receive a response letter in the mail.”

Planetary Protection Officer applications can be sent until Aug. 14

The Planetary Protection Officer job opening was announced last week through USAJOBS. NASA detailed that whoever gets the job could earn between $124,406 and $187,000 a year. However, you need several qualifications to apply for the position, including one year of experience as a top-level civilian government agent, a degree in physics, engineering, or mathematics, and having advanced knowledge of planetary protection.

In Monday’s statement, NASA said that while the position might not be what some people thought, the Planetary Protection Officer does have an important job.

“Although the Planetary Protection Officer position may not be in real-life what the title conjures up, it does play an important role in promoting the responsible exploration of our solar system by preventing microbial contamination of other planets and our own,” said NASA.

Even though Jack can’t apply for the job until he’s older and has a much larger resume, anyone interested in the position can apply until August 14.

Source: NASA