More accurate navigation when Santa comes to town

22 December 2017

It will now be easier for Airservices Australia to track Santa and his crew when he enters Australian airspace this Christmas, thanks to two recent developments by Geoscience Australia and partners.

Having chosen to be among the first in the world to test a new satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS), Santa and his reindeer will have the advantage of more accurate navigation across Australia and New Zealand.

Speaking from his workshop in the North Pole, Santa said "Until September, the GPS on my sleigh was only accurate to about 10 metres. Since Geoscience Australia asked me to participate in the SBAS trial, it is now down to 10 centimetres. This makes it a lot easier for my reindeer to find houses, particularly in the outback where my coverage wasn't very good."

"My counterparts and I have been using this technology across the globe in Russia, Japan, China, the United States, India and Europe. Now I can make sure all Australian presents are present!"

Santa will also be able to deliver everyone's presents with precision, knowing that Australia's coordinates have been updated. We are all moving towards the North Pole, riding the Australian continental plate at a rate of seven centimetres a year. This means Australia has moved 1.8 metres since the coordinates were last updated in 1994.

"Accurate coordination needs accurate coordinates! And since I need to deliver so many presents in such a short amount of time, I'm glad I found out about the update in time for Christmas. Otherwise I would have missed the mark on all those chimneys! I know it doesn't sound like a lot, but 1.8 metres is around the length of a reindeer, so it can make quite a difference when I'm flying so fast from house to house."

For more information on the Satellite Based Augmentation System test-bed project visit  the Geoscience Australia website.

Further information on GDA2020 is available on the Intergovernmental Committee on Survey and Mapping website and the Geoscience Australia website.