We all had fanciful ideas of what what jobs we wanted to do when we were children. Some of us wanted to be cowboys, or spacemen. Others were more interested in being race car drivers, or superheroes. Nevertheless, most of us dreamed our job would include something like saving the world!
For many, such dreams will remain that—dreams. Unless, of course, you are the lucky dog that lands the NASA position of Planetary Protection Officer.
Nope, it’s not a joke.
It’s a real job advertised by NASA, and it pays up to $187,000 per year. And yes, the job is as cool as it sounds. According to the job description on the US government’s recruitment website, USAJobs, a Planetary Protection Officer:
“…Is concerned with the avoidance of organic-constituent and biological contamination in human and robotic space exploration.
“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.”
But before you rush to submit your application, Jack Davis, a 4th grader, might have you beat.
A friend of Jack’s parents posted the letter on the website Reddit. The letter reads:
My name is Jack Davis and I would like to apply for the planetary protection officer job. I may be nine but I think I would be fit for the job. One of the reasons is my sister says I am an alien also. I have seen almost all the space and alien movies I can see. I have also seen the show Marvel Agents of Shield and hope to see the movie Men in Black. I am great at video games. I am young, so I can learn to think like an Alien.
Guardian of the Galaxy
Among his lists of qualification, little Jack says that he: 1) is an alien, 2) has seen plenty of alien movies and superhero shows, 3) is great at video games, and 4) can learn quickly due to his age.
Might as well go home, folks. Jack has this one in the bag.
Watch the video for more information (to apply, click here):
NASA has since responded to Jack’s letter:
I hear you are a ‘Guardian of the Galaxy’ and that you’re interested in being a NASA Plantary Protection Officer. That’s great!
Our Plantary Protection Officer position is really cool and is very important work. It’s about protecting Earth from tiny microbes when we bring back samples from the Moon, asteroids and Mars. It’s also about protecting other planets and moons from our germs as we responsibly explore the Solar System.
We are always looking for bright future scientists and engineers to help us, so I hope you will study hard and do well in school. We hope to see you here at NASA one of these days!
Dr. James L. Green
Director, Planetary Science Division”
That’s not all. Jonathan Rall, planetary research director at NASA, also gave the family a call “to congratulate him on his interest in the position.”
“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,” NASA added.