The Panama Canal from Space – A collection of satellite images before and after the Expansion Project

In commemoration of completion of the Panama Canal Expansion Project, and in tribute to the upcoming official opening on June 26, we present a series of before and after satellite photos highlighting the Expansion Project and showcasing this engineering marvel.

Work on the Panama Canal Expansion took nearly 9 years to complete, starting in September 2007, at a cost of US$5.2 billion. By adding a third set of locks on both the Pacific and Caribbean sides of the canal, dredging the existing navigation channel, adding a new approach channel on the Caribbean side and a new 6.1 km access channel on the Pacific side, and raising the Gatun Lake maximum operating level, the Expansion doubles the capacity of the Canal and significantly increases the size of vessels that can transit the Canal.

Below we present before and after satellite images of the newly expanded Canal, provide an overview of the Expansion Project, show a rare nearly-cloudless image from Landsat-5, and even include one of the earliest Landsat images of the Panama Canal acquired by Landsat-1 on March 18, 1973.

Panama Canal Expansion - Pacific

Satellite views of the Pacific Ocean entrance to the Panama Canal, before (left; Landsat-7 on November 20, 2002) and after (right; Landsat-8 on June 11, 2016) the Expansion Project. Note the addition of the third set of locks, the three sets of water reutilization basins immediately adjacent to the new locks, and the new access channel that now bypasses Miraflores Lake.

 

Panama Canal Expansion - Caribbean

Satellite views of the Caribbean Sea entrance to the Panama Canal, before (left; Landsat-7 on May 28, 2002) and after (right; Landsat-8 on February 20, 2016) the Expansion Project. Note the addition of the third set of locks, the three sets of water reutilization basins immediately adjacent to the new locks, and the new approach channel.

 

Overview - Panama Canal Expansion Project

An overview of the Panama Canal Expansion Project (from: http://micanaldepanama.com/expansion/).

 

Panama Canal - Landsat5 Cloud Free

This is a rare nearly-cloudless glimpse of the entire Panama Canal acquired by Landsat-5 on March 27, 2000.

 

Panama Canal - Landsat1

For the remote sensing history aficionados, this is the earliest Landsat image of the Panama Canal listed in the USGS archives, from Landsat-1 on March 18, 1973, over 40 years ago.

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