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Track Santa as he delivers gifts around the world on Christmas Day

NORAD tracks Santa on his annual Christmas gift delivering mission.
NORAD tracks Santa on his annual Christmas gift delivering mission. (Image credit: NORAD)

Impatient children can pass time waiting for their Christmas presents by tracking Santa as he proceeds with his annual deliveries across the globe in a simulation by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

It's a tradition for NORAD, in cooperation with private companies Analytical Graphics (AGI) and Cesium, to follow Santa on this important mission. Last year, NORAD presented a video of Santa's visit to the International Space Station, for which he had received an official permission from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. 

This year's journey will commence on Dec. 24 at 4 a.m. EST (0900 GMT), and will take Father Christmas westward from the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean over Australia, Asia, Europe and finally to the Americas. Along his route, Santa will pass famous landmarks including the Great Wall of China, the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty, AGI said in an emailed statement. 

Related: The first Christmas in space: an Apollo 8 holiday history

During this journey, Santa will for the first time be seen visiting cities including Seattle, Dubai and Rio de Janeiro. 

But this year, it's not just the gift-delivering trip that people from across the world can witness. NORAD and AGI also let the audience take part in Santa's pre-Christmas preparations. 

Safety is paramount for the successful completion of Santa's annual mission and there are many dangers he has to avoid on the way. One such threat is snow storms. In one of the videos, children can learn how Santa maneuvers his sleigh in white weather or how he determines how many reindeer he needs to make the trip as energy efficient as possible. 

There are also new challenges that Santa didn't need to deal with only a few decades ago, such as space debris. As orbits around Earth become more and more cluttered with defunct satellites and fragments spawn in explosions and collisions, Santa needs to watch out for this unexpected traffic. 

Although a guardian of a tradition, Santa keeps track of new technologies. His new sleigh is more aerodynamic and for the future, he is considering replacing the reindeer with a new flying machine that would enable him to speed up the deliveries. 

You can follow Santa's journey here and learn more about the engineering that makes his trip safe and efficient here. You will notice that Santa is really COVID-conscious and travels with a face mask to protect himself and others.

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Tereza Pultarova

Tereza is a London-based science and technology journalist, aspiring fiction writer and amateur gymnast. Originally from Prague, the Czech Republic, she spent the first seven years of her career working as a reporter, script-writer and presenter for various TV programmes of the Czech Public Service Television. She later took a career break to pursue further education and added a Master's in Science from the International Space University, France, to her Bachelor's in Journalism and Master's in Cultural Anthropology from Prague's Charles University. She worked as a reporter at the Engineering and Technology magazine, freelanced for a range of publications including Live Science, Space.com, Professional Engineering, Via Satellite and Space News and served as a maternity cover science editor at the European Space Agency.