It all started when NASA posted a job vacancy. The federal agency is looking to hire a “Planetary Protection Officer.”
One of NASA’s Twitter accounts posted about the vacancy — and needless to say, Twitter went wild.
There were plenty of Doctor Who and Men In Black jokes from people who misunderstood the position. Fun fact: It’s not actually about protecting Earth from aliens!
According to NASA, planetary protection “is the term given to the practice of protecting solar system bodies (i.e., planets, moons, comets, and asteroids) from contamination by Earth life, and protecting Earth from possible life forms that may be returned from other solar system bodies.”
The day after NASA’s tweet went wide, Reddit user millamber posted a letter that his friend’s son had written to NASA. The little boy, Jack Davis, wanted to apply for the lucrative job.
If you read Jack’s carefully handwritten letter, you can see that his logic is pretty sound:
“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 vidieo [sic] games. I am young, so I can learn to think like an Alien.”
Little Jack signed the letter “Jack Davis, Guardian of the Galaxy, Fourth Grade.”
Understandably, Reddit users went wild with appreciation for the little boy’s assertiveness.
But the best part of this story is how quickly Jack’s application caught NASA’s attention!
Just a day after Jack’s application “cover letter” was dated, NASA tweeted out a reply.
“When 4th grader and self-proclaimed “Guardian of the Galaxy,” Jack, wrote to us about applying for a job, we replied,” NASA explained.
Of course, the Reddit post didn’t have Jack’s mailing address (for privacy reasons — and also because 9-year-olds don’t usually have personalized letterhead!), so NASA’s response was in the form of an open letter.
Dr. James L. Green, the director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, wrote:
“I hear you are a ‘Guardian of the Galaxy’ and that you’re interested in being a NASA Planetary Protection Officer. That’s great!
“Our Planetary 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!”
Jack, a fourth-grader from New Jersey, even received a phone call from the director of Planetary Research at NASA, Jonathan Rall. Jonathan congratulated Jack on his interest in the position.
“At NASA, we love to teach kids about space and inspire them to be the next generation of explorers,” Dr. Green explained. “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.”
People were understandably tickled that NASA had taken the time to respond to Jack. One Twitter user named Steve called the letter from Jack “fantastic” and NASA’s reply “wonderful,” wishing Jack luck on his quest to one day work for NASA.
There were even other NASA employees weighing in with their opinions as well — including one who “offered” Jack an internship!
Kevin J. DeBruin, who is listed as a NASA JPL rocket scientist, according to his Twitter bio, said “I’ll take him as an intern once he’s 16! Lol.”
Kevin is also collecting response letters that other people have received back after writing to NASA.
And as the above reply proves, just because you “grow up,” that doesn’t necessarily mean your dream of working for NASA will ever die.
Did you ever dream of going to space?
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