NORAD Tracks Santa

In 1955, a Sears Department store in Colorado Springs, CO misprinted Santa’s phone number so children calling for Santa accidentally reached the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Commander-in-Chief’s operations “hotline.” Colonel Harry Shoup, Director of Operations, had his staff track Santa by radar and provide updates to the children who called.

Now CONAD’s successor, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), provides a live tracking update with a Google Maps interface. You may also receive Twitter updates: @noradsanta.

NORAD claims their remarkable tracking ability is due to radar surveillance of the North Pole, in conjunction with satellite-based infrared tracking of Rudolph’s nose, video surveillance of selected locations Santa visits, as well as fighter escorts over the U.S. The remarkable accuracy and coverage of NORAD’s tracking make the satellite-based infrared tracking claims seem doubtful. A more likely explanation of NORAD’s world-wide Santa tracking capability is an Iridium-linked GPS unit like one of these.

Whatever the means by which NORAD accomplishes their mission, warm holiday greetings to the folks at NORAD and their colleagues in the armed services who stand ready to protect us while we enjoy the holiday with friends and family. Thanks, and Merry Christmas!

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