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NASA scientist: Slamming used asteroid into moon 'makes sense'

When we're done studying an abducted asteroid, one way to get rid of it could be to have it lose at a game of chicken with our largest satellite.

Any potato gun or punkin' chunkin' fans can appreciate the awesomeness of launching one of these at the moon. NASA/JPL Near-Earth Object Program Office

NASA has its eyes on lassoing and then studying a captive orbiting asteroid, but what happens to such a space rock when the space agency is all done with it?

"Once you're finished with it and you have no further need of it, send it in to impact the moon," Paul Chodas, scientist with the Near-Earth Object Program Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said at the recent Space 2013 conference, according to Space.com. "That makes sense to me."

In case you missed NASA's ambitious asteroid abduction plan, the idea is to snag one and place it in a stable orbit around Earth where it can be visited many times by astronauts, researchers, and potential space miners.

Chodas was speaking about what may happen when the asteroid has outlasted its usefulness to its captors. He figures the asteroid could stay in its orbit for at least 100 years without causing too much trouble (depending upon the amount of space junk it comes in contact with, presumably), but if we prefer to dispose of it, he said an impact trajectory with our largest satellite is one way to go.

Watch below for a video illustration of how the asteroid capture mission could go down. It's almost as awesome as the notion that we could one day get to play a modern version of the video game "Asteroids" -- only with a real asteroid ... and the frickin' moon. That's way better than lasers.