With the advent of new satellite technology, the radiative energy exchanges between Sun, Earth, and space may now be quantified accurately. Nevertheless, much less is known about the magnitude of the energy flows within the climate system and at the Earth's surface, which cannot be directly measured by satellites. This review surveys the basic theories, observational methods, and different surface energy balance algorithms for estimating evapotranspiration (ET) from landscapes and regions with remotely sensed surface temperatures, and highlights uncertainties and limitations associated with those estimation methods. Although some of these algorithms were built up for specific land covers like irrigation areas only, methods developed for other disciplines like hydrology and meteorology, are also reviewed, where continuous estimates in space and in time are needed. Temporal and spatial scaling issues associated with the use of thermal remote sensing for estimating evapotranspiration are also discussed. A review of these different satellite based remote sensing approaches is presented. The main physical bases and assumptions of these algorithms are also discussed. Some results are shown for the estimation of evapotranspiration on a rice paddy of Chiayi Plain in Taiwan using remote sensing data.