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near-earth object

[neer-urth] /ˈnɪərˈɜrθ/
noun, Astronomy
1.
a comet or asteroid pushed by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into an orbit that allows it to enter the earth's orbit and thereby pose a danger of collision.
Abbreviation: NEO.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Contemporary definitions for near-earth object
noun

any asteroid, comet, or meteoroid whose orbit intersects that of the Earth and has the potential to collide with Earth; abbr. NEO

Examples

NASA has a congressional mandate to catalog all near-Earth objects.

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near-earth object in Science
near-Earth object
  (nîr'ûrth')   
A comet or asteroid with an orbit or trajectory that comes near Earth's orbit, often drawn into such a path by the gravitational effect of the Earth and other planets. While there is currently no known near-Earth object on a collision course with Earth, collisions with such objects have taken place in the past and may be associated with mass extinctions such as those that took place at the end of the Permian and Cretaceous Periods.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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