Tracking Santa

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For nearly 50 years now, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, has been keeping tabs in Santa Claus, as he makes is way around the world on Christmas Eve.

Dozens of “Santa Trackers” were watching from deep inside Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs. Their mission: To make sure that jolly old elf completed his task safely. It’s a difficult and dangerous trip---flying at MACH 2 in an open sleigh with only reindeer to power you.

So how does NORAD track Santa? It’s not actually the sleigh that they can spot. Instead, it’s that bright, shiny nose of the lead reindeer, Rudolph, that the satellites can pick up. “Over the years, what we have seen is if he hasn't eaten enough vegetables---that nose will glimmer and if his nose glimmers, we do have a bit more difficulty tracking him,” says Maj. Douglas Martin of NORAD.

One little-known fact about Santa, according to NORAD, is that he plans to arrive in each time zone at precisely 11 p.m. local time. But if children are not yet asleep, Santa must skip that house and make a return visit later in the night. Of course, that adds more time to Santa’s trip. So it’s very important for little ones to get to bed early on Christmas Eve!

In 2002, NORAD received about 27,000 phone calls from all over the world from people who wanted updates on Santa Claus’ trip. There were also an estimated 35,000 emails. The Santa Trackers can handle calls in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Japanese.

For the latest on Santa’s trip, go to the link on our homepage!