||The cargo handling capacity of a port is the most basic and important indicator of port size. Based on the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program-Operational Linescan System (DMSP-OLS) nighttime light data and panel model, this study attempts to estimate the cargo handling capacity of 28 coastal ports in China using satellite remote sensing. The study confirmed that there is a very close correlation between DMSP-OLS nighttime light data and the cargo handling capacity of the ports. Based on this correlation, the panel data model was established for remote sensing-based estimation of cargo handling capacity at the port and port group scales. The test results confirm that the nighttime light data can be used to accurately estimate the cargo handling capacity of Chinese ports, especially for the Yangtze River Delta Port Group, Pearl River Delta Port Group, Southeast Coastal Port Group, and Southwest Coastal Port Group that possess huge cargo handling capacities. The high accuracy of the model reveals that the remote sensing analysis method can make up for the lack of statistical data to a certain extent, which helps to scientifically analyze the spatiotemporal dynamic changes of coastal ports, provides a strong basis for decision-making regarding port development, and more importantly provides a convenient estimation method for areas that have long lacked statistical data on cargo handling capacity.