Millions of kids across all ages are obsessed with outer space and the galaxy, and America’s NASA is often the object of these dreamy affections. However, for some kids, it’s more than just a dream. It’s an important ambition and they are never too young to start chasing it.
In 2017, it took NASA approximately one day to respond to the amazing 9-year-old Jack Davis, an ambitious fourth-grader and self-acclaimed “Guardian of the Galaxy.”  With a pencil-written detailed letter, the young lad applied for the unique position of “planetary protection officer,” assuring the agency that his age would not be a hindrance to his efficiency at the job. If anything, a nine-year-old who is great at video games and has watched the show “Marvel Agents of Shield” is the best fit for the position.
The full 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 movies 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 vidieo [sic] games. I am young, so I can learn to think like an alien.
Guardian of the Galaxy
Office of Planetary Protection
Jack’s application was shared on Reddit’s r/funny by a family friend. Although the photo immediately went viral across several media platforms, most people didn’t know the Planetary Protection Office was a real role at NASA.
According to the agency’s website, “Planetary Protection is the practice of protecting solar system bodies from contamination by Earth life and protecting Earth from possible life forms that may be returned from other solar system bodies. NASA’s Office of Planetary Protection promotes the responsible exploration of the solar system by implementing and developing efforts that protect the science, explored environments, and Earth.”
PP officers are required to be subject matter experts and hold an advanced degree in science. Also, the salaries range from $124,406 to $187,000 per year. Not bad at all, and certainly the right kind of position to occupy a young mind’s dreams (especially with that cool name).
NASA came through for the ambitious chap
NASA probably receives countless application letters from kids every year, but something about Jack’s self-assured letter stood out. Also, it had already gone viral, and so NASA’s director of planetary science division, Dr. James L. Green, responded to the application. He praised the young boy’s admirable title of “Guardian of the Galaxy,” also explaining how important the work of a PP officer is. The name of the job often gives a false impression about what the role entails, and a kid might assume it involves protecting Mars and Jupiter with swords and shields. Green went on to encourage the kid to focus on his studies and hopefully attain his big dreams one day.
The response read in part: “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!”
A follow-up press release from NASA states that the 9-year-old “also received a phone call from NASA’s Planetary Research Director, Jonathan Rall at NASA Headquarters in Washington, to congratulate him on his interest in the position.”
Dr. Green said: “At NASA, we love to teach kids about space and inspire them to be the next generation of explorers. Think of it as a gravity assist–a boost that may positively and forever change a person’s course in life, and our footprint in the universe.”
This is certainly an experience the little Guardian would never forget. He’d be 12-13 now, and we hope he still fosters such massive and important dreams. Children, after all, are the future.