The North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, is a joint effort between the United States and Canada responsible for radar monitoring of U.S. and Canadian airspace and waterways.
NORAD has another important function: They have a Santa tracker which tracks the movement of Santa Claus as he travels from the North Pole delivering gifts to children the world over. NORAD follows Santa using four methods: radar, satellites, Santa Cams and fighter jets. The North Warning System, a radar system, consists of 47 locations distributed throughout North America. At the exact moment when Santa is sighted departing the North Pole, the second tracking system takes over. This system utilizes satellites with infrared sensors which detect the heat from Rudolph’s nose and pinpoint the exact location of Santa and his reindeer. The third tracking system is the Santa Cam network, which includes photos of Santa and his cohorts taken around the world. The fourth tracking method includes fighter jets, which welcome Santa once he reaches North America and follow him on the remainder of his trip.
Every year on Dec. 24, children can call this number — 877 HI-NORAD (877 446-6723) — to find out the exact location of Santa, or they can send an email to [email protected] The calls and e-mails are answered by volunteers, and funded by corporate sponsors. This year, First Lady Michele Obama was gracious enough to volunteer her time taking calls. She brought Christmas joy to a select group of lucky children who will remember this event for a lifetime!
This program began as a result of a misprint in the Sears Roebuck catalog, which printed the phone number of the NORAD headquarters. The commander, Col. Harry Shoup, gave instructions to his department to provide children with the location of Santa as he traveled the world distributing gifts. Thus the Santa tracker program began, and it has continued ever since.
When NORAD is not tracking Santa, they keep busy monitoring U.S. and Canadian airspace and waterways. The headquarters is located at Petersen Air Force Base in Colorado. According to Navy Adm. James Winnefeld, there are three top priorities for NORAD in 2011, “counter-terrorism, transnational criminal organizations, such as the criminal organizations in Mexico, and defense support of civil authorities, which refers to cooperation with the National Guard.”
According to the National Security Strategy report, dated October 2010, the national security priorities for 2011 include:
“Defeating terrorism worldwide; strengthening our biological and nuclear security; improving intelligence gathering and information sharing; ensuring a secure global digital information and communications infrastructure, in other words, working to improve online security; promoting the resiliency of our physical and social infrastructure, which includes upgrading the electrical grid, or power lines, and improving the infrastructure and security of all transportation systems. Additional priorities include: improving security in the chemical and nuclear industries; pursuing comprehensive transborder security, which includes improving the security of ports as well as land, air and sea networks; and ensuring effective incident management, which involves effectively dealing with natural disasters, such as flooding and severe weather. This process will include the development and testing of attack and disaster management plans, as well as providing technical assistance to state and local first responders, in additional to providing increased funding to improve communication systems.”