Washington: The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) based at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, is all set to track Santa Claus again on his annual Christmas Eve flight to deliver presents to children around the globe.
For more than 50 years, NORAD has used its high-tech missile-tracking systems to track Santa’s progress during his annual Christmas Eve flight around the world.
For a 24-hour period, about 1,200 military volunteers take shifts manning the command centre in Colorado, where they monitor radar screens and field calls from excited 7-year-olds who ask for updates on Santa’s location.
They also update Kris Kringle’s progress on the Google Earth map on the NORAD Tracks Santa website, as well as the Facebook page and the Twitter feed.
For the first time this year, people can even keep constant tabs on Santa’s sleigh by downloading the NORAD Tracks Santa iPhone and Android apps. In other words, the program is a big deal, and it gets bigger every Christmas.
When asked whether the volunteers plan the jolly old elf’s route ahead of time, US Navy Lieutenant Commander Bill Lewis, a Santa tracker, was having none of that.
“We don’t plan it, he does,” LiveScience quoted Lewis as saying.
“We just monitor his travels with our ground-based radar, satellites, fighter aircraft, and, of course, the Santa Cams — he passes over certain cities, and based on the track we’re projecting, we’ve got cameras set up,” he said.
The NORAD team monitors a radar system called the North Warning System, which consists of 47 installations strung across the northern border of North America, for indications that Santa Claus has left the North Pole.
“Rudolph’s nose puts off quite the heat signature,” Lewis added.