Satellites tell a different story than thermometers and folklore.
Many places call themselves the hottest on Earth, but most are not serious contenders. Ground-based weather stations typically sit near civilized areas and don't reveal the full story. Satellites, however, observe the entire planet, including extreme environments where no human wants to be. By detecting land skin temperatures—which often significantly exceed air temperatures and provide a measure of how the land absorbs and re-emits solar energy—satellites can dispel myth. Scientists analyzing NASA satellite data found the hottest spot on Earth changed three times within seven years, but the characteristics of each location were the same—dry, rocky, dark-colored and remote, like the land surrounding China's Flaming Mountain, pictured above. Temperatures in these places often top out above 150 degrees Fahrenheit (65