NORAD Answers Questions About Their Annual Santa-Tracking Operation

The North American Aerospace Defense Command is a US/Canada organization protecting the air sovereignty of the two nations.

But every year on December 24th, they also tell you where Santa is. From

The modern tradition of tracking Santa began in 1955 when a young child accidentally dialed the unlisted phone number of the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center upon seeing an newspaper advertisement telling kids to call Santa. The Director of Operations, Colonel Harry Shoup, answered the phone and instructed his staff to check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole…. Each year since, NORAD has dutifully reported Santa’s location on Dec. 24 to millions of children and families across the globe. NORAD receives calls from around the world on Dec. 24 asking for Santa’s location. Children, families and fans also keep track of Santa’s location on the NORAD Tracks Santa® website and our social media platforms.

The page lists the NORAD technologies involved in tracking Santa — including 47 radar installations and geo-synchronous satellites with infrared heat sensors. (“Rudolph’s nose gives off an infrared signature similar to a missile launch…”)
And this year NORAD also produced a special video highlighting the various military fleets protecting Santa. (“He may know when you’re sleeping, he may know when you’re awake… ” it tells viewers. “But for 67 years now, when he takes flight, we’ll know.”)

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Canadian NORAD fighter pilots, flying the CF-18, take off out of Newfoundland and welcome Santa to North America. Then at numerous locations in Canada other CF-18 fighter pilots escort Santa. While in the United States, American NORAD fighter pilots in either the F-15s, F16s or F-22s get the thrill of flying with Santa and the famous Reindeer…

Q: How can Santa travel the world within 24 hours?

A: NORAD intelligence reports indicate that Santa does not experience time the way we do. His trip seems to take 24 hours to us, but to Santa it might last days, weeks or even months. Santa would not want to rush the important job of delivering presents to children and spreading joy to everyone, so the only logical conclusion is that Santa somehow functions within his own time-space continuum….

How does Santa get down chimneys?

Although NORAD has different hypotheses and theories as to how Santa actually gets down the chimneys, we don’t have definitive information to explain the magical phenomenon.

Do your planes ever intercept Santa?

Over the past 65 years, our fighter jets (F-16s, F-15s, F-22s and CF-18s) have intercepted Santa many, many times. When the jets intercept Santa, they tip their wings to say, “Hello Santa! NORAD is tracking you again this year!” Santa always waves. He loves to see the pilots…!

How many people support this effort, and are they active duty military personnel?

More than 1,250 Canadian and American uniformed personnel and DOD civilians volunteer their time on December 24th to answer the thousands of phone calls and emails that flood in from around the world. In addition to the support provided by our corporate contributors to make this program possible, NORAD has two lead project officers who manage the program.
How much money is spent on this project?

The NORAD Tracks Santa program is made possible by volunteers and through the generous support of corporate licensees who bear virtually all of the costs.
Corporate contributors include Microsoft (with separate contributions from Microsoft’s search engine Bing and from Microsoft Azure), AWS (and Amazon’s Alexa), Verizon, and HP. also boasts extra features like an “arcade” of online games, a jukebox of Christmas tunes, and a library of online books about Santa. And the site even provides some technical data on the weight of Santa’s sleigh — although the unit of measurement used is gumdrops.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

‘Advent of Code’ Has Begun – and Other Geeky Daily Programming Challenges

I Programmer writes:
December 1st is much anticipated among those who like programming puzzles. It is time to start collecting stars by solving small puzzles on the Advent of Code website with the goal of amassing 50 stars by Christmas Day, December 25th. Raku has also opened its advent calendar and there’s a brand new Bekk Christmas blog with informational content on multiple topics… At the time of writing we are only 10.5 hours into Advent of Code’s Day 1, almost 50,000 users have completed both puzzles and another 8,484 have completed the first. [Some programmers are even livestreaming their progress on Twitch, or sharing their thoughts (and some particuarly creative solutions) in the Advent of Code subreddit.]

We can credit Perl with pioneering the idea of a programming advent calendar with daily articles with a festive theme and the Raku Advent Calendar now continues the tradition. Now in its 13th year, but only the third with its new name this year’s first advent post solves a problem faced by Santa of creating thumbnails of approaching 2 billion images…

Smashing magazine has pulled together its own exhaustive list of additional geek-themed advent calendars. Some of the other highlights:

The beloved site “24 Pull Requests” has relaunched for 2021, daring participants to make 24 pull requests before December 24th. (The site’s tagline is “giving back to open source for the holidays.”) Over the years 26,465 contributors (as well as 25,738 organizations) have already participated through the site.
The Advent of JavaScript and Advent of CSS sites promise 24 puzzles delivered by email (though you’ll have to pay if you also want them to email you the solutions!)

This year also saw daily challenges from the sixth annual Code Security advent calendar being announced on Twitter, while has its own set of cybersecurity puzzles (and even a few prizes).

Read more of this story at Slashdot.