The Hubble Space Telescope could start sending photos back to Earth as soon as tomorrow if engineers can fix electrical problems that have prevented the instrument from working fully since the end of last month, NASA officials say.

Scientists managed to turn back on the router that relays data from the telescope, but some electrical malfunctions have switched the telescope systems into "safe mode," according to The New York Times. Because of the relay problem, NASA is using a backup data channel that hasn't been powered up since 1990.

"Events of these kinds are not uncommon in electrical components that have been powered off for a time," Art Whipple of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center said yesterday, according to Reuters.

A Hubble maintenance mission scheduled for this month has been pushed back until at least February because of the glitch. NASA plans to repair or upgrade many scope components that should keep it running until 2014 or longer.


(Image of Hubble Space Telescope leaving the payload bay/NASA)