December 24th, 2019 – PHILADELPHIA and PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — Cesium®, the market leader in 3D geospatial software, today announced its continued partnership with NORAD (The North American Aerospace Defense Command) to provide the 3D technology to power its annual NORAD Tracks Santa® program, found online at www.noradsanta.org.
Cesium’s open-source, web-based globe allows millions of people to visualize and interact with Santa’s journey as he travels around the world on Christmas Eve. This innovative mapping technology shows Santa’s current position on the 3D globe, which models realistic terrain, oceans, and imagery.
“NORAD is honored to be the organization tracking Santa’s Yuletide journey, and Cesium’s technology plays an extremely valuable part in sharing the sleigh ride with children around the world,” said Preston Schlachter, the NORAD Tracks Santa Program Manager. “Cesium’s innovative technology makes it possible to watch Santa’s Christmas Eve ride as a real-time, visually-stunning, accurate event.”
“As a growing startup, we’re proud to play a central role in a project that brings joy to so many people,” said Cesium CEO Patrick Cozzi. “Working alongside NORAD and other volunteer partners across industry and government each year is a great reminder that collaboration is essential to advancing our respective fields.”
24 hours a day, 365 days a year, NORAD tracks everything that flies in and around North America. The tradition to include Santa’s sleigh began in 1955 when a young child dialed a misprinted phone number from a department store advertisement in a local newspaper.
Today, visitors can track Santa’s journey in real-time via the website, social media, calling the Operations Center, or even asking GM® OnStar® or Amazon® Alexa®. This year, the 3D app is optimized for mobile devices, so children can follow Santa’s journey from the back seat of the car while on their way to Grandma’s house.
Cesium’s 3D Mapping Technology:
Originally a part of software company Analytical Graphics®, Inc., Cesium has deep roots in the aerospace industry, so accuracy and precision are given top priority. Cesium is also time-dynamic, which means NORAD can update Santa’s position in real-time as he flies to deliver presents to children worldwide.
Throughout Christmas Eve day, the Santa Tracker app listens for updates on Santa’s location and moves the Santa model to that position on virtual Earth. Cesium calculates the position of the sun based on the current time, which enables effects such as shadows. Both the sun and the star map move as time passes to provide a full picture of Earth’s position in space. The sun and its reflection in the ocean also move with time. Learn about the technology here.
This ‘virtual Earth’ is composed of several pieces: a map of the stars and lighting from the sun and moon all courtesy of NASA, current satellite imagery of the land and sea and a 3D representation of terrain features. A 3D model of Santa Claus is added in and his position is updated in real-time as Cesium receives data from NORAD’s network of Santa-tracking sensors. The app also listens for notifications of new videos captured by NORAD’s strategically placed ‘Santa Cam’ cameras and adds a video camera icon to the Earth at these locations.
About NORAD Tracks Santa:
NORAD Tracks Santa kicks off Dec. 1, with a more mobile friendly website, social media channels, ‘Santa Cam’ streaming video and a call center that will be operating around the clock on Dec. 24. More than 1,400 volunteers are expected to join NORAD on Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs to help track Santa’s journey.
NORAD Tracks Santa is truly a global experience, delighting generations of families everywhere. This is due, in large part, to the efforts and services of numerous program contributors. The NORAD Tracks Santa website can be found at www.noradsanta.org. On Dec. 24, users may call or text 1-877-HiNORAD for Santa’s up-to-date location.
NORAD is a binational U.S. and Canadian Command charged with aerospace and maritime warning and aerospace control of North America as well as monitoring aerospace activity globally. However, every year during the holidays, NORAD assumes the supplementary mission of tracking Santa as he travels around the world.
Cesium® enables the world’s ever-growing collection of 3D geospatial data to reach its full potential by empowering the creation of applications that visualize, analyze, and share this data – all from your favorite browser. Built on open source code, Cesium is a complete platform that enables developers to create high-performance, dynamic 3D geospatial applications using next-generation 3D tiling technology for Cloud-streamable GIS-enhanced content. The platform manages the entirety of the 3D mapping ecosystem – everything from optimization to visualization to analytics.
Originally part of aerospace software company Analytical Graphics Inc. (AGI), Cesium was built to track satellites orbiting the Earth with sub-millimeter accuracy. Now spun out as an independent entity, Cesium continues to aggressively develop and enhance the platform for a range of customers in government agencies, startups and Fortune 500® companies alike. Learn more at cesium.com.