This paper outlines a new strategy to derive evaporation from satellite observations. The approach uses a variety of satellite-sensor products to estimate daily evaporation at a global scale and 0.25 degree spatial resolution. Central to this methodology is the use of the Priestley and Taylor (PT) evaporation model. The minimalistic PT equation combines a small number of inputs, the majority of which can be detected from space. This reduces the number of variables that need to be modelled. Key distinguishing features of the approach are the use of microwave-derived soil moisture, land surface temperature and vegetation density, as well as the detailed estimation of rainfall interception loss. The modelled evaporation is validated against one year of eddy covariance measurements from 43 stations. The estimated annual totals correlate well with the stations' annual cumulative evaporation (R = 0.80, N = 43) and present a low average bias (-5%). The validation of the daily time series at each individual station shows good model performance in all vegetation types and climate conditions with an average correlation coefficient of R̄ = 0.83, still lower than the R̄ = 0.90 found in the validation of the monthly time series. The first global map of annual evaporation developed through this methodology is also presented. © Author(s) 2011.