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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Role reversal: NORAD helps kids keep an eye on Santa

  • He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake. Just about every little kid knows Santa keeps close track of children throughout the year to determine if they should be put on the naughty or nice list.
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  •  He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake.
    Just about every little kid knows Santa keeps close track of children throughout the year to determine if they should be put on the naughty or nice list.
    Now it’s the kids turn to watch Santa for a change.
    Thanks to NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) children will be able to track Jolly Old Saint Nick as he makes his annual trip around the world, delivering a sleigh full of presents to good little girls and boys.
    According to NoradSanta.org, Tracking Santa starts with the NORAD radar system called the North Warning System. This powerful radar system consists of 47 installations strung across the northern border of North America. On Dec. 24, NORAD monitors the radar systems constantly to determine the exact moment Santa’s journey begins.
    According to a NORAD press release, “the moment that radar indicates Santa has lifted off, we use our 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, Rudolph's bright red nose gives off an infrared signature, which allows our satellites to detect Rudolph and Santa.
    The third tracking system is the Santa Cam network. We began using it in 1998, which is the year we put our Santa Tracking program on the internet. Santa Cams are ultra-cool, 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. Canadian NORAD fighter pilots flying the CF-18 fighter jets intercept and welcome Santa to North America. In the United States, American NORAD fighter pilots in either the F-15, F-16 or the F-22 get the thrill of flying alongside Santa and his famous reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and, of course, Rudolph.”
    NORAD has a special website children of all ages can use to keep an eye on Santa, www.noradsanta.org. The site features games and activities for children. Once Santa begins his trip, it will also show video of the journey.
    Don’t have the internet? Don’t worry, operators will be at NORAD to update you over the phone about Santa’s whereabouts.
    The NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center (NTSOC) opens on Dec. 24 at 4 a.m. and will remain open until 4 a.m. Christmas day. To contact them by phone, call 1-877-HI-NORAD.
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