Venus, seen as a small black dot, passes across the sun in this 2012 view from a weather observatory in Manila, Philippines.
Venus, seen as a small black dot, passes across the sun in this 2012 view from a weather observatory in Manila, Philippines. - 
Listen To The Story

Jeff Horwich: This morning NASA delayed the launch of two new weather satellites. But it's not about the weather down here -- they'll track the weather in outer space. Why is that worth a price tag of $700 million? Here's Sally Herships.

Sally Herships: How high up do you need to travel before you start worrying about weather conditions in outer space?

Ray Williamson: Oh right here on earth -- because we are affected by it.

Ray Williamson works with the Secure World Foundation, a space research organization. He says bad weather events in outer space, can disrupt everything from air travel, to the GPS on your phone.

Williamson: They’ve very hard to predict and we don’t have much lead time if we do see one coming.

Which can be a very expensive problem. When bad space weather interferes with satellites planes can be grounded. That can cost a hundred thousand dollars a flight. And if the satellite is damaged, it can take tens of millions of dollars to repair.

Carol Paty teaches space physics at Georgia Tech. She says even though NASA’s mission is pricey, it’s well worth it.

Carol Paty: The money is being spent in the U.S., so it’s not money that’s just being lost or literally thrown out into space.

In New York, on the ground, I’m Sally Herships for Marketplace.

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.