Chicago (IL) – Each year children all over the globe patiently await the images of Santa on the television screen via satellite radar. Each year, the question is posed – how do they track Santa? This year, you’ll be able to explain.
For more that 50 years, the American-Canadian air command responsible for safeguarding the continent against aerial attacks has utilized the NORAD tracking device to follow the journey of Santa Claus providing children with real-time updates on his precise location.
NORAD began tracking Santa’s journey in 1955 when the organization was called the Continental Air Defense Command (CONRAD). The beginning of the story was a Sears-Roebuck ad in a newspaper that gave out Santa’s telephone number. Unfortunately, the number was misprinted and it rang CONRAD’s operations center. Instead of being a Scrooge, Col. Harry Shoup, who headed up the operation, told a child he’d check the radar.
To this day, the tradition continues. Technology has become more sophisticated and Santa is still tracked.
According to Wired, the North Warning System contains 47 radars positioned strategically throughout the northernmost portion of our continent to notify NORAD when Santa Claus leaves North Pole. Infrared satellites then track his flight path as soon as he is in the air. “The satellites actually pick up an infrared signature from Rudolph’s nose,” Navy Lt. Desmond James told Wired.com.
As soon as Santa hits the ground, a small network of surveillance cameras called “Santa Cam” transmits images of St. Nicholas delivering packages and gifts. The network of cameras went live 10 years ago, and NORAD officials promise that it is used only on Christmas Eve.
Santa is escorted through Canada by four C-18 fighter jets prior to handing off the duty to F-16s as he heads into American airways. Children can track Santa’s whereabouts online via a Google Map and Google Earth, via cellphone and Blackberry, and even on Twitter.
The operation is completed by volunteers and corporate donations that fund the project. Last year volunteers answered 94,743 phone calls and replied to 10,326 e-mails from children all over the globe.
Track Santa’s progress by calling 1-877-HINORAD, sending an email to [email protected] or by logging on to noradsanta.org. NORAD says Santa depart North Pole at 6 a.m. EST today.