He's made his list and checked it twice. But where, oh where, is Santa?
The satellite tracking group from the Intelligence &
Space Research (ISR) Division of Los
Alamos National Laboratory
again will be tracking Santa Claus' whereabouts
on Christmas Eve. To monitor Santa's progress as he
races around the world delivering presents and goodies
to good children everywhere, we will be using the satellite
tracking dishes in the high mountains of Los Alamos,
New Mexico, as well as sensors on the FORTE
and the 2007 launched Cibola
Flight Experiment (CFE) satellite
. New this year to help with the tracking of Old Saint Nick are the
Prometheus CubeSats that were launched in November 2013.
In addition, the U.S. Air Force, with
nine tracking stations around the world, will also help
us monitor Santa's travels.
How are we able to track Santa with our satellite? The
FORTE satellite is in a highly inclined, 70-degree (measure
of the angle between the orbit plane and the plane of
the Earth's equator) orbit. The satellite's altitude
above the Earth's surface is 500 miles. From this orbit,
the satellite travels between the latitudes of +/- 70 degrees and can monitor
the whole world for signs of Santa and his reindeer crew whenever they
are in view. The CFE satellite will augment the FORTE tracking. While CFE
is inclined only 35-degree and is only 350 miles above the Earth, it can
see parts of the Earth that are out-of-view to FORTE. The inclusion of the
Prometheus satellites, inclined 45-degree at 315 miles above the Earth, provide more
persistent Santa monitoring just in case he tries to evade detection.
We believe that Rudoph's glowing, bright red nose puts
out optical and infrared light that makes him easy to
detect, allowing an optical camera on FORTE to give us
a glimpse of Santa and his team. Also, the Federal Aviation
Administration requires Santa to fly with a radio transponder
on his sleigh, similar to what airplanes use, to ensure
flight safety around the world. This transponder can be
detected with the radio receivers that fly onboard
the FORTE, CFE and Prometheus satellites.
Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer!
Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid!
On, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch!
To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away!
Dash away all!
Follow Santa and his crew across the globe. Santa, Rudolph, and the other hard-working reindeer love to
surprise, so it is not always easy to know exactly where they will be on Christmas Eve. But based on years
of satellite tracking data, we have below what we think will be their preliminary flight plan. So prick up
your ears and listen for that "Ho Ho Ho" as we follow Santa on his travels.
Flight Plan for December 24
(Times are based on local Mountain Standard Time in Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA)
Pilot: Santa Claus
Co-Pilot: Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
Aircraft: North Pole Sleigh 201
Weight w/ Cargo: ~73,500 lbs.
At 6 am Santa Claus departs from the North Pole and heads west towards the International Date Line
|7 am:||Siberia||8 am:||Japan||9 am:||Philippines|
|10 am:||Australia||11 am:||China||Noon:||India|
|1 pm:||Russia||2 pm:||Europe||3 pm:||Scandinavia|
|4 pm:||British Islands||5 pm:||Africa||6 pm:||South America|
|7 pm:||Mexico||8 pm:||Nova Scotia||9 pm:||New England|
|10 pm:||Chicago||11 pm:||Mid-West||Midnight:||New Mexico|