Why? Because for more than 50 years, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD), have tracked Santa.
The whole deal is pretty high tech, involving radar, satellites, Santa Cams and even fighter jets.
That’s right… fighter jets.
According to NORAD, Santa tracking begins with something called the “North Warning System.” On December 24, NORAD keeps a constant eye on this system, consisting of 47 installations along the northern border of North America, for signs that Santa has left the North Pole.
Once Santa has lifted off, satellites positioned in geo-synchronous orbit at 22,300 miles from the Earth’s surface and equipped with infrared sensors that enable them to detect heat begin tracking Rudolph’s nose — which, naturally, gives off an infrared signature.
Then the Santa Cams kick in. The Santa Cams are fairly new (they’ve only been around since 1998, the year NORAD went online with its Santa Tracker) and capture images and videos of Santa and his reindeer as they deliver presents to children the world over.
Last, the jets. Canadian CF-18s and US F-15 and F-16s fly alongside Santa and, I guess, make sure he’s safe from terrorist attacks?
Seriously, though, the website is adorable and changes daily. Today, Santa apparently took a short break from making toys to dance with Mrs. Claus, who no doubt feels a bit neglected this time of year.
And before you flip over such an egregious use of government funds (scrooge), rest assured that the program is primarily funded by the likes of Booz Allen Hamilton, Google, and Toys for Tots.
The NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center (NTSOC) opens on December 24th at 4:30 a.m. EST (3:30a.m. CST, 2:30a.m. MST, and 1:30a.m. PST) until 5:00am EST (4:00a.m. CST, 3:00a.m. MST, and 2:00a.m. PST) on December 25th. Official Santa trackers are standing by at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, CO to take your calls.