Santa is busy making his list and checking it twice and posts on newsgroups are here with the latest high tech way to actually track the big man himself as he prepares for his departure from the North Pole.
To deliver gifts to millions of children around the globe, Santa must travel at lightning-fast speeds. For generations, nobody knew how Santa did it all except that when children woke there were gifts under the tree and the milk and cookies were gone. Today, the military has sophisticated radar systems that are able to track Saint Nick as he makes the trip from the North Pole, giving us all a peek into his magic.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command is in charge of the annual task of keeping children informed of Santa’s progress and it has more than five decades of experience in this critical Christmas Eve mission.
It’s a major effort that starts with the North Warning System, a powerful radar system comprised of 47 installations across the very northern edge of North America.
The system lets NORAD know the moment Santa takes off from the North Pole.
Then NORAD activates its second Santa-tracking system; satellites in geo-synchronous orbit 22,300 miles above the Earth equipped with infrared sensors fine-tuned to zero in on Rudolph’s nose.
NORAD also uses its Santa Cam network, which consists of high-tech, high-speed digital cameras, which since 1998 have been pre-positioned in key locations around the world.
And to make sure that nothing goes wrong, NORAD fighter pilots take to the sky to keep a close eye on Santa, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph on their flight across North America.
NORAD’s holiday tradition dates back to 1955. U.S. Navy Lt. Desmond James, public relations with NORAD, said that Christmas Eve night means that the Cheyenne Mountain Complex — which houses NORAD — has teams of military personnel and volunteers to help keep track of Santa.
“We have about 1,200 military and family members last year that help respond to e-mails and phone calls,” James said. “We had 74,000 phone calls that came in over 24 hours and 3,500 e-mails.”
If you’ll be on-the-go Christmas Eve, you can also track Santa by calling 1-877-HI-NORAD.