Peterson AFB, Colo. There’s just a few short hours left until Santa begins his journey from the North Pole to homes worldwide, and the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado is ready for its annual Santa tracking. NORAD uses four high-tech systems to track Santa - radar, satellites, “Santa Cams” and fighter jets. Tracking Santa starts with the NORAD radar system called the North Warning System. This radar system consists of 47 installations strung across the northern border of North America. Tonight, NORAD monitors the radar systems continuously for indications that Santa has left the North Pole. The moment that radar indicates Santa has lifted off, NORAD uses its second detection system. Satellites positioned in geo-synchronous orbit at 22,300 miles from the Earth’s surface are equipped with infrared sensors, which enable them to detect heat. Amazingly, NORAD officials said, Rudolph’s bright red nose gives off an infrared signature, which allows its satellites to detect him and Santa. The third tracking system is the “Santa Cam” network. NORAD began using it in 1998, the same year NORAD put its Santa Tracking program on the Internet, according to officials. Its “Santa Cams” are high-tech, high-speed digital cameras that are pre-positioned at many locations around the world. NORAD only uses these cameras once a year. The cameras capture images and videos of Santa and his reindeer as they make their journey around the world. The fourth system is made up of fighter jets, according to NORAD. Canadian NORAD fighter pilots flying CF-18s intercept and welcome Santa into North American airspace. In the U.S., American NORAD fighter pilots, in either F-15s or F-16s, have the chance to fly alongside Santa and his reindeer as they enter U.S. airspace. To track Santa, visit www.noradsanta.org.
About NORAD NORAD is the bi-national U.S.-Canadian military organization responsible for the aerospace and maritime defense of the U.S. and Canada. NORAD, created by a 1958 agreement between Canada and the U.S.., provides advanced warning of impending missile and air attacks against its member nations, safeguards the air sovereignty of North America, and maintains airborne forces for defense against attack.