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Weekly wrap-up: Giant asteroid flies by Earth; NASA launches ‘Adopt the Planet’ campaign ahead of Earth Day

A rare snow blanketed parts of Europe this week, downing trees and causing travel disruptions from Slovakia to Maldova.

Two dozen people were injured in a 40-car pileup amid snow in northeastern Slovakia on Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

The incident occurred at 6 a.m. CEST (midnight EDT) near the city of Poprad, where 7.5 cm (3 inches) of snow covered the ground on Thursday morning.

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Chisinau, Moldova, was turned into a wintry wonderland on 20 April 2017. (Photo/Instagram user aurediobre)

Dangerous heat stifled India this week. Thursday marked the hottest April day for New Delhi since 2010.

The extreme heat has prompted officials in Telangana to commence summer vacations early for all schools starting on Friday, according to the Times of India. Schools will also be closed in Tamil Nadu.

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Indian children play with buffaloes in the River Tawi on a hot summer day in Jammu, India, Thursday, April 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

An enormous asteroid named after Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson made its closest approach to Earth on Wednesday. While its exact size remains unknown, the asteroid is estimated to measure nearly a kilometer in length, leading Slooh astronomers to its culturally relevant name.

The Rock came come closer to Earth than any asteroid of its size in 13 years. It came within nearly 1.1 million miles of the planet, which is equivalent to 4.6 times the distance from the Earth to the moon.

On Tuesday, President Trump signed a bill into law that will strengthen weather forecasting and research capabilities across the country.

The bill received strong bipartisan support. The Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017, H.R. 353. will authorize the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to prioritize research to improve weather data, modeling, computing, forecasting and warnings to better protect lives and property.

AccuWeather CEO Barry Lee Myers called the bill a “monumental piece of legislation.”

Leading up to Earth Day (April 22), NASA has been encouraging people to “adopt” a part of the globe. Each participant is given a 55-mile-wide section of Earth and a certificate that features scientific data for that location.

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A NASA camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite captured this view of the entire sunlit side of Earth from one million miles away. (Photo/NASA)

NASA’s goal is to have the entire globe “claimed” by Saturday. To adopt a piece, visit