Santa Trips Up Trackers

Something's screwy in Santaland. As reported earlier, two government agencies--NASA and NORAD--were setting up separate campaigns to track the movements of old St. Nick. But ScienceNOW has learned that the two agencies have plotted very different courses for Santa Claus's Christmas Eve peregrinations, raising serious questions about the integrity of the agencies' Santa-tracking systems.

NASA's data indicate that Santa orbited Earth in roughly the same way as other craft that NASA tracks. According to NASA's plots on Christmas Eve, Santa zoomed eastward as he circled Earth. Because his orbit was inclined with respect to the equator, he appeared to take an s-shaped track over Earth's face as he delivered presents.

NORAD, on the other hand, showed Santa moving to the west in a suborbital trajectory--heading from Russia toward the United States--sharply in contrast to NASA's track. In fact, the two systems seldom agreed where Santa was at any given time and often gave widely different locations; for example, a little after 7 p.m. EST, NASA placed Santa just off the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, while NORAD had him over the British Isles.

The disparity clearly raises some disturbing questions. Could Santa have an unnamed confederate? Is one agency falsifying its data? Or, most alarming, is Santa able to fool our highest-tech radar systems? Santa was unavailable for comment.

Related site
NORAD's Santa tracking program