Every year for as long as I can remember, NORAD has been tracking Santa Claus as he flies around the world on Christmas Eve. News stations such as CNN and MSNBC monitor NORAD's data and broadcast it; as of Monday, December 24, 2001, e2 server time 23:39:16, Santa was somewhere near Stonehenge, England.

Starting at 7 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Christmas Eve, you can call (719) 474-2111 or go to www.noradsanta.com to find out where exactly Santa is at a given point in time. There are also SantaCams to show actual visits from Santa; for this you will need RealPlayer and a fairly high-speed connection. The website has six different languages: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Japanese, and Italian. Last year, it received over 100 million hits and this year it wants to set a record for number of hits in a 24-hour period.

The system for tracking Santa utilizes NORAD's network of satellite and radar systems and intensive analysis at facilities in North Bay, Ontario, and at Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs. A press release issued by Major General Eric Findley, director of operations at the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) explained that Rudolph's bright red nose emitted a "phenomenal infrared signature" easily picked up by NORAD's missile warning satellites.

The three-member international space station crew (Yury Onufrienko, Dan Bursch and Carl Walz) will be monitoring Santa's speed, the performance of the reindeer and the cargo of presents for children throughout the world. Mission Control in Houston will, for a short time this Christmas Eve, become "Santa Control, Houston."

In the press release, the head of NORAD explained that Santa's sleigh will be escorted into U.S. airspace from Canada on Christmas Eve by Canadian CF-18 fighter jets.

"He's an unknown track just like any other. He doesn't have a transponder that squawks 'friend' or 'foe.' "

Thanks to www.noradsanta.com and CNN