Once NASA concludes its ambitious pet asteroid experiment, researchers could dispose of the space rock by slamming it into the moon—no, it wasn’t a suggestion from Michael Bay. According to a Space.com report, propelling the asteroid into Earth’s satellite is the safest possible route, despite how incredibly dramatic it sounds. One NASA researcher, Paul Chodas, couldn’t be more casual about it. “That makes sense to me,” he said when discussing the possibility.
“You can be comfortable that (the asteroid) will stay in this orbit for 100 years or so,” Chodas said. “But if that’s not enough, I think that, once you’re finished with it and you have no further need of it, send it in to impact the moon.”
Earlier this year, NASA outlined a initiative that would attempt to retrieve an asteroid and place it in the stable orbit of Earth, where researchers can then visit it as they please to study. The plan is to send a spacecraft to capture a roughly 25-foot-wide 500-ton asteroid and drag it into a stable lunar orbit. If that doesn’t pan out, scientists could break a smaller piece off a larger space rock; NASA is open to both possibilities. The first possible visit to such a captured rock could occur in 2021.
In addition to studying the asteroid’s composition, researchers could mine the rock in an effort to understand our solar system’s earliest days. If anything, it could give us more insight into what’s out there in deep space—way, way outside of the solar bubble.