NASA's Best Volunteer For The Planetary Protection Officer Gig Is A Sci-Fi Loving Fourth Grader

Photo: Getty Images.
Update: The job that launched a thousand resumes has gotten it's best (and most viral) applicant to date.
A young man, Jack, sent in a hand written letter offering NASA his services in the role of planetary protection officer. As is letter mentions, he's already a guardian of the galaxy as well as a fourth grader, so he is clearly qualified.
NASA shared Jack's adorable note on Twitter.
"I may be nine, but I think I would be fit for the job," Jack wrote. He goes on to explain his qualifications, writing that his sister says he's an alien and that he has seen nearly all of the space alien movies, along with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. "I am young, so I can learn to think like an alien," Jack wrote in closing.
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Dr. James L. Green, NASA's Director, Planetary Sciences Division, wrote Jack back to thank him for his interest. "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," Green wrote. "We hope to see you here at NASA one of these days!"
It's going to be hard to beat that application.
This story was originally published on August 2, 2017.
They say not all heroes wear capes — in fact, some wear lab coats. That’s why NASA is hiring a scientist to protect the planet from alien life. Yup, you read that right.
Officially, NASA is hiring a planetary protection officer. According to the job posting on USA jobs, the officer has to make sure NASA avoids “organic-constituent and biological contamination in human and robotic space exploration.” So basically, this person is in charge of keeping all alien matter out of our home planet.
Other than, you know, keeping Earth safe, the planetary protection officer is in charge of evaluating space missions with planetary protection standards, advising NASA officials, and recommending new standards to the agency. But, while that job description may sound a little mundane, having business cards that say “planetary protection officer” is still pretty badass.
Plus, this job is rare. According to Business Insider, NASA’s planetary protection officer position is one of only two in the world. The other is stationed at the European Space Agency.
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Catherine Conley is currently NASA's only planetary protection officer, a position she's held since 2014. "This new job ad is a result of relocating the position I currently hold to the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance, which is an independent technical authority within NASA," Conley told Business Insider in an email on Tuesday.
Before you quit your current job to defend planet Earth, the qualifications for this position are pretty intense. You have to have a degree in physical science, engineering, or mathematics that included 24 semester hours in physical science and/or related engineering science, or comparable experience. You also need advanced planetary protection expertise and experience “overseeing elements of space programs of national significance.”
So, if your knowledge of space is limited to the solar system episode of Magic School Bus, this might not be the job for you.
But if you do fit these qualifications, the payout is pretty stellar. According to the job posting, the salary for a planetary protection officer is anywhere between $124,406 and $187,000. The position will last three years, with the possibility of extending it for two more. Oh, and you get “secret” security clearance.
Even if this job isn’t the right fit for you, it’s nice to know someone will be keeping us all safe from alien matter. To all past, present, and future planetary protection officers out there, thanks for keeping our stargazing safe! You’re out of this world.
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