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The technology NORAD uses to track Santa each Christmas Eve

The North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, uses radars, satellites, and aircraft to help keep tabs on Saint Nick on Christmas Eve.

YORK, Pa. — It’s a Christmas tradition going on it’s 66th year. NORAD, or the North American Aerospace Defense Command, is helping answer questions and track Santa Claus again this year. 

NORAD is an alliance that defends the North American continent from anything that may pose a threat in the aerospace domain. But on Christmas Eve, the organization shifts gears to help make sure Santa Claus makes it to everyone’s homes.

“The things we use to protect America and Canada are radars and satellites and aircraft and those same technologies we can utilize to see and track Santa when he enters our airspace,” says Captain Ted Essenfeld of the United States Navy. “One of our favorites is infrared, ya know, Rudolph's nose glows bright red and warm so we can track his nose even through clouds or rough weather.”

Captain Essenfeld will help answer questions from kids and track Santa with NORAD this year. Along with tracking Santa, NORAD will also fly alongside him as he enters our airspace. 

“We’ve got a long standing history with Santa now and it’s become a tradition that once he flies into our airspace, he’s going to be met first by Canadian CF-18 fighter jets,” Captain Essenfeld tells Fox43. “And then as he comes across Canada into the United States, he’s going to be handed off to US Air Force F-16s, F-15s, or F-22s that are going to escort him and his flight over the United States.”

People can track Santa online on Christmas Eve and can call NORAD to ask any questions they have. Captain Essenfeld warns that you shouldn’t stay up too late on the computer, because the sooner you go to sleep, the sooner Santa Claus can stop by to drop off your gifts!

And as you leave the cookies out for Saint Nick before you go to bed, Captain Essenfeld says not to forget the reindeer too!

“Our intel gives us that secret tidbit that if the reindeer are getting some treats when they arrive, some fresh carrots or apple or something like that, they’re going to go a little faster and Christmas Day will be a little more exciting.”

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