NORAD and satellite technology help Santa deliver

Dec 22, 2011 By Thomas Wrublewski
NORAD Tracks Santa. Credit: NORAD

(PhysOrg.com) -- According to the U.S. Department of Commerce Census Bureau, the world's population is approximately 7 billion (6,979,978,073+) people. Santa Claus has had to adapt over the years to having less and less time to deliver gifts to more people. To better assure prompt deliveries and safe flights, higher technology systems are increasingly being used by the United States Northern Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., to support the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

NORAD is a joint United States and Canadian organization which provides aerospace warning and control. The United States Air Force (USAF) uses ground based radars, (NOAA) operational satellites provided by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, as well as Santa Cams, Google maps, and jet fighter aircraft.

(GPS) satellite information and carefully timed gravity assists from the sun, moon, and/or Earth are used to speed Santa's sleigh faster and more precisely than ever before.

Artist's concept of GOES-15 in orbit being used to help track Santa. Credit: NASA/Honeywell Tech Solutions, C. Meaney

Multi-variable numerical modeling improvements in the solar wind, auroras, geomagnetic force fields, and space/Earth are also being credited for important improved sleigh routing efficiencies. Rudolph (the red-nosed lead reindeer) provides a great infrared (warm) signature for the to focus on. The satellite data indicates where fog is and Rudolph can take over the reins from Santa as they use microwave data to know where the rain, snow, and ice are for those precise landing adjustments.

From 22,300 miles in space, NORAD will use for the first time the GOES-15 (covers the U.S. west coast and Pacific Ocean areas) significantly improved Earth location accuracy and heat detection infrared equipment from various satellites. Rudolph's nose gives off an infrared signature similar to a small missile launch and satellites can detect Rudolph's bright red nose very precisely.

NOAA, NASA, and the USAF have satellites expertly positioned and additional volunteers are supporting the improved Santa tracking beginning after sundown on Christmas Eve December 24. Near "real time" public updates of progress should be available from the web site www.noradsanta.org/ NORAD Santa and thanks to worldwide corporate and international support updates will be provided in eight languages.

NASA is in the process of checking out the new NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) satellite, launched in October. NPP will provide even more precise and more timely updates of weather information in the years ahead so Santa and his reindeer team can safely deliver more and more presents in all weather conditions in one night!

To track Santa using NORAD, visit: www.noradsanta.org

Explore further: A guide to the 2014 Neptune opposition season

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Follow Santa Claus, courtesy Google and NORAD

Dec 24, 2009

Santa Claus is coming to your town -- and NORAD is tracking him as he drops off presents around the world. The North American Aerospace Defense Command, which monitors the North American airspace, on Thursday ...

NASA's NPP satellite completes comprehensive testing

Aug 08, 2011

The NASA National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) Preparatory Project (NPP) has successfully completed its most comprehensive end-to-end compatibility test of the actual ...

Science Satellites Scour Skies for Santa

Dec 20, 2007

International audiences (young and young-at-heart) will be closely eyeing the Santa-tracking satellite technology of Los Alamos National Laboratory in the coming week. Beginning at 6 a.m. Monday, Dec. 24, Los Alamos scientists ...

New Environmental Satellite Successfully Launched

Feb 06, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new environmental satellite that will improve weather forecasting and monitor environmental events around the world soared into space this morning after a picture-perfect launch from Vandenberg ...

Recommended for you

A guide to the 2014 Neptune opposition season

1 hour ago

Never seen Neptune? Now is a good time to try, as the outermost ice giant world reaches opposition this weekend at 14:00 Universal Time (UT) or 10:00 AM EDT on Friday, August 29th. This means that the distant ...

Informing NASA's Asteroid Initiative: A citizen forum

20 hours ago

In its history, the Earth has been repeatedly struck by asteroids, large chunks of rock from space that can cause considerable damage in a collision. Can we—or should we—try to protect Earth from potentially ...

Image: Rosetta's comet looms

Aug 28, 2014

Wow! Rosetta is getting ever-closer to its target comet by the day. This navigation camera shot from Aug. 23 shows that the spacecraft is so close to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko that it's difficult to ...

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Nanobanano
1 / 5 (2) Dec 22, 2011
As a believer in God, I find the myths/lies of Santa Claus to be repulsive and offensive.
Xbw
1.5 / 5 (6) Dec 22, 2011
Dude seriously? I am also a devout Christian and I have no problem with the story of Santa. They stem from Saint Nicholas who was a great man. God wont smite you for enjoying a story.

Personally, my parents never taught me to believe in Santa as a child but I always liked the idea of him. Nothing offensive about giving. Or did you forget the Bible verse that states, "Give and it will come back to you." No you are too busy using God as a crutch for your self loathing and as an excuse to be angry about yet another thing.
bhiestand
not rated yet Dec 22, 2011
I'm not religious, but I find the obsession with lying to children because we think ignorance is cute repugnant.
dan42day
1 / 5 (1) Dec 23, 2011
Ho, Ho, Ho! Santa knows the value of high quality snow!