NORAD Tracks Santa
A 'NORAD Tracks Santa' screenshot from Google Earth. 'NORAD Tracks Santa' Screensho

NORAD, the folks that keep the upper atmosphere safe by tracking everything that is up there so we can shoot down the bad guys, is tracking Santa this year, and you can follow him on his cheerful rounds here. According to NORAD they keep track of the flying bearded gift-bearer with the North Warning System, which has 47 installations discretely tucked away like a string of Christmas lights along the northern border of the U.S.

After sleigh-liftoff, at the International Date line in the Pacific, Santa heads west, over Japan, Asia, Africa, Europe, Canada the U.S. down to Mexico, Central and South America. NORAD tracks him with satellites, a Santa cam network and fighter jets, including F-15s, F-16s or the F-22.

But they can't keep up with Santa because no one can handle the sleigh in high-altitude like he can.

He's making good time, too, but forget the image of the sleigh that they've got on the site. First off, he's turned to streamlined aerodynamics so he's opted for the computerized, unstable flying wing design. Also, Santa lives in a much more dangerous world these days. And he is carrying a lot of presents, based on an average fertility rate of 2.17 children per woman, there are a couple of billion little ones out there, more or less, given a 7 billion world population. Luckily, thanks to NORAD tracking, and a sophisticated pre-flight deployment of toys around the world, in-air reloading of the trunk of Santa's sleigh allows him to maintain optimum speed and manage his just-in-time delivery system smoothly, so he never runs out of toys, but doesn't have to take them all on-board at once. This lets him stay fast and maneuverable, essential for the surprises he plans to deliver with his mighty presents Christmas morning.

What with the troubles in the world today, a bunch of toys is just not something you want to leave laying about in the sleigh, when you are busy slipping down a chimney. So Santa now has a a high security sleigh, with motion sensors and a very sophisticated burglar alarm. Santa's sleigh even has a special seat that recognizes if he is the one in the driver's seat, and disables the sleigh if anyone else tries to jack his ride.

In addition, to prevent mid-air hijackings, he has adopted a low-radar signature shape this year, so his sleigh no longer looks like it did, but now appears to be fabricated out of stacked thermoplastics, more like a stealth bomber, and uses adaptive camouflage to ensure that he will get through the skies unhindered by piracy. This latter design and fabrication, it is rumored involved consultants from famed Lockheed Martin Skunk Works near Palmdale, but no one is talking on the record. And, it's best not to tell the kids, after all you wouldn't want to replace thoughts of sugarplums with anxious worries about pirates mugging Santa and making off with their toys.

Santa will also be able to tell who has been naughty and who has been nice thanks to a few upgrades to his listing system (that he checks twice): he's using facial-recognition software tied to the information he can find on the Internet to automatically search out everyone's records in the cloud. Ho...Ho...Ho.

Here's some footage of Santa in flight, thank you NORAD. We know you're busy keeping an eye on the sky for incoming ICBMs, but it's nice to know you also have time to track the good guys, too. Season's greetings

And here's the latest tracking map: