When Santa Flies, Satellites Will Be Watching

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Starting at 2 a.m. Mountain Time on Sunday, Christmas Eve, visitors to NORAD's Web site will be able to track Santa's progress around the world online. NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, has been offering the Santa-tracking updates for over 50 years. Four high-tech systems are used to do the job -- radar, satellites, Santa Cams and jet fighter aircraft, the site says. Originally a phone-in service, with updates mainly heard via news shows and radio, the Web site has been tracking Santa online since 1998. Last year, the site got over 900 million hits. Other options are available, too. Google Earth uses its satellite imagery to capture activity on the runway at the North Pole, and Flight Explorer is watching Santa's flight plans and practice flights. The sites might require that you download special software, so visit early and be sure you're ready to go when the big night arrives. For more about NORAD's tracking project, listen to AVweb's Friday podcast -- NORAD Project Officer Major Stacia Reddish explains how the defense group got into the Santa-tracking business and how it performs this unique mission.