'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
But on a cold mountaintop, in Los Alamos high,
Satellite trackers gazed up at the sky...
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 satellite 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:Siberia8 am:Japan9 am:Philippines
10 am:Australia11 am:ChinaNoon:India
1 pm:Russia2 pm:Europe3 pm:Scandinavia
4 pm:British Islands5 pm:Africa6 pm:South America
7 pm:Mexico8 pm:Nova Scotia9 pm:New England
10 pm:Chicago11 pm:Mid-WestMidnight:New Mexico