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near-Earth asteroid (NEA) Any asteroid that has a chance of hitting our planet, specifically any member of the Apollo, Amor, and Aten groups. Although the annual probability of the Earth being struck by a large asteroid or comet is extremely small, the consequences of such a collision are so catastrophic that it was thought prudent in the USA to assess the nature of the threat and to be prepared to deal with it.
Collins Dictionary of Astronomy © Market House Books Ltd, 2006
References in periodicals archive
Near Earth asteroids
are confirmed at a rate of more than 900 per year, but as yet little is known about their composition and structure.
Deep Space believes there are thousands of near Earth asteroids
that will be easier to chase down than this one.
It is unfortunate this information is shut off just when it is becoming more valuable to the community interested in characterizing near Earth asteroids
and protecting our planet from asteroid impacts," he added.