NORAD's Internet Santa Tracker Draws Visitors
(December 24, 2005, updated Dec. 25) -- On Christmas eve, LBReport.com posted a live link on our front page via NORAD (North American Radar Defense) for a quick way to let children of all ages track Santa Claus on his journey from the North Pole.
During this period, we linked to the tracking update from NORAD's Santa Claus tracking website at www.noradsanta.org.
Final numbers aren't availabler yet, but it was among LBReport.com's more visited pages on Christmas Eve.
www.noradsanta.org image on Christmas morning
This marks the 50th Anniversary that NORAD (and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command) have tracked Santa. NORAD's Santa website says:
The tradition began after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. store advertisement for children to call Santa on a special "hotline" included an inadvertently misprinted telephone number. Instead of Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief's operations "hotline." The Director of Operations, Colonel Harry Shoup, received the first "Santa" call on Christmas Eve 1955. Realizing what had happened, Colonel Shoup had his staff check radar data to see if there was any indication of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Indeed there were signs of Santa and children who called were given an update on Santa's position. Thus, the tradition was born.
In 1958, the governments of Canada and the United States decided to create a bi-national air defense command for the North American continent called the North American Air Defense Command. Canada and the U.S. believed they could better defend North America together as a team instead of separately.
The Command carried out its first Santa tracking in 1958 after inheriting the tradition from CONAD. Since that time, Canadian and American men and women who work at NORAD have responded to phone calls from children personally. Additionally, media from all over the world call NORAD on Christmas Eve for updates on Santa's location. Last year this Website was visited by millions of people who wanted to know Santa's whereabouts. This year, the information is provided in six languages.
NORAD's Santa website says:
NORAD uses four high-tech systems to track Santa - radar, satellites, Santa Cams and jet fighter aircraft.
It all starts with the NORAD radar system called the North Warning System. This powerful radar system has 47 installations strung across Canada's North and Alaska. NORAD makes a point of checking the radar closely for indications of Santa Claus leaving the North Pole on Christmas Eve.
The moment our radar tells us that Santa has lifted off, we begin to use the same satellites that we use in providing warning of possible missile launches aimed at North America. These satellites are located in a geo-synchronous orbit (that's a cool phrase meaning that the satellite is always fixed over the same spot on the Earth) at 22,300 miles above the Earth. The satellites have infrared sensors, meaning they can see heat. When a rocket or missile is launched, a tremendous amount of heat is produced - enough for the satellites to see them. Rudolph's nose gives off an infrared signature similar to a missile launch. The satellites can detect Rudolph's bright red nose with practically no problem. With so many years of experience, NORAD has become good at tracking aircraft entering North America, detecting worldwide missile launches and tracking the progress of Santa, thanks to Rudolph.
The third system we use is the Santa Cam. We began using it in 1998 - the year we put our Santa Tracking program on the Internet. NORAD Santa Cams are ultra-cool high-tech high-speed digital cameras that are pre-positioned at many places around the world. NORAD only uses these cameras once a year - Christmas Eve. We turn the cameras on about one hour before Santa enters a country then switch them off after we capture images of him and the Reindeer. We immediately download the images on to our web site for people around the world see. Santa Cams produce both video and still images.
The last system we use is the NORAD jet fighter. Canadian NORAD fighter pilots, flying the CF-18, take off out of Newfoundland to intercept and welcome Santa to North America. Then at numerous locations in Canada other CF-18 fighter pilots escort Santa, while in the United States American NORAD fighter pilots in either the F-15 or F-16 get the thrill of flying with Santa and the famous Reindeer Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph. About a dozen NORAD fighters in Canada and the United States are equipped with Santa Cams.
The NORAD Santa Tracking team tracked Santa on Nov. 27, 2005 from the North Pole to Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood, Calif., as he participated in the Hollywood Christmas Parade. The website says this test confirmed that "All Systems Are Go" for Dec. 24, 2005."
NORAD's Santa website adds:
NORAD relies on many volunteers to help make Santa tracking possible. Many people at Cheyenne Mountain and Peterson Air Force Base spend part of their Christmas Eve with their families and friends at NORAD's Santa Tracking Operations Center in order to answer phones and provide Santa updates to the many thousands of children who call in.
NORAD is the bi-national U.S.-Canadian military organization responsible for the aerospace defense of the United States and Canada. NORAD was created by a 1958 agreement between Canada and the United States. The agreement has been renewed nine times - most recently in 2000. NORAD provides warning of missile and air attack against both of its member nations, safeguards the air sovereignty of North America, and provides air defense forces for defense against an air attack.
NORAD's mission has evolved over the years to meet the aerospace defense needs of Canada and the United States. The most recent "evolution" in NORAD's mission came as a result of September 11, 2001. Because of that day, NORAD now monitors the airspace within Canada and the United States, too. There are men and women in NORAD constantly watching the skies to keep the United States and Canada safe. Visit NORAD's kids' Pages at www.norad.mil
The system also allows users to send Santa and NORAD an email.
[Adults may want to thank NORAD's volunteers them for their work...and wish them a Merry Christmas.]
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