Hubble telescope working, taking photos again

WASHINGTON -- The Hubble Space Telescope is working again, taking stunning cosmic photos after a breakdown a month ago.

The 18-year-old telescope is as good as it was before a shutdown in late September, according to the Hubble Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. That glitch scotched plans for spacewalking astronauts to upgrade the Hubble earlier this month. The mission is scheduled for sometime next year.

After part of the telescope's science computer shut down unexpectedly, NASA twice tried to switch on a back-up unit that had never been turned on. The first attempt a couple of weeks ago triggered other computer breakdowns. The second attempt was successful.

"It's back to where it was before that box failed," space telescope institute spokesman Ray Villard said Thursday. "Everything's fine."

To prove it, NASA released a glimmering new Hubble photo showing two ring-shaped galaxies after they collided. Villard called the image a "weird interaction" of the two galaxies, which are 440 million light-years away. A light-year is 5.8 trillion miles.

One of Hubble's cameras still needs time before it can start running again, but it should be working by early next month, Villard said. Two other cameras are back to normal.