Three Gorges Dam from Space

When it’s finally completed in 2009, China’s Three Gorges Dam will be a colossal man made structure. But even partially completed, it’s already a dramatic change to the region; it’s even visible from space with the unaided eye. NASA’s space satellites have been tracking the construction since it began in 1994, and NASA has released an animation that shows both the dam today, and the changes over time.

The Yangtze River is the third largest river in the world, reaching 6,200 km (3,900 miles) across China. The river is prone to flooding, and overflows its banks every 10 years or so. The dam is designed to control this flooding, protecting inhabitants down river, as well as producing a tremendous amount of electricity.

When it’s fully operational, the dam will produce 20 times the electricity of the Hoover Dam, and allow huge freighters to travel into the Chinese interior, delivering supplies and retrieving manufactured goods.

The construction of the dam has also had a serious impact on the local environment, flooding out residents, changing rainfall patterns, and concentrating pollution.

Original Source: NASA News Release