NASA opens Planetary Protection job, 4th grader responds perfectly

Letters exchanged between NASA and space enthusiast Jack Davis, a fourth-grade student in New Jersey.Credits: NASA

The recent announcement for a position that NASA has had since the 1960s – Planetary Protection Officer – has generated a lot of excitement in the public, as well as comparisons to many sci-fi movie heroes.

It also caught the attention of one self-proclaimed “Guardian of the Galaxy” -- an inspired fourth grader from New Jersey who reached out to NASA in a letter to express his interest in serving as the agency’s Planetary Protection Officer. Nine-year-old Jack Davis is, in return, receiving a letter from NASA’s Planetary Science Director Jim Green.

"At NASA, we love to teach kids about space and inspire them to be the next generation of explorers," Green said. "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."

He 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.

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.

Learn more about NASA’s Office of Planetary Protection at

Follow NASA’s missions to explore our solar system and beyond at: