During the next couple of years, scientists believe that TESS should be able to easily locate thousands of these exoplanets in transit, with some of them capable of harboring life of some kind.
"I'm thrilled that our new planet hunter mission is ready to start scouring our Solar System's neighborhood for new worlds", said Dr. Paul Hertz, director of the Astrophysics Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, Washington.
A planet-hunting satellite created to search for so-called exoplanets around nearby stars is poised to start beaming its first package of data back to Earth. As it approaches Earth, it will rotate, and transmit all its accumulated data to scientists on the ground.
"Now that we know there are more planets than stars in our universe, I look forward to the odd, fantastic worlds we're bound to discover", Hertz added. A transit occurs when a planet passes in front of its star from the observer's perspective, causing a periodic and regular dip in the star's brightness.
The spacecraft is expected to beam back its first collection of scientific data in August, and every 13.5 days after that, when it periodically reaches the point in its orbit that is closest to Earth.
Another innovation will be that TESS will not watch for the sun and bright stars, about the planets that astronomers today know nearly nothing.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched TESS in April into an orbit between Earth and the moon, which is the never-ending route to look for exoplanets. TESS has started to explore nearby stars in search for planets. Each of its cameras has a 16.8-megapixel sensor covering a square 24 degrees wide - large enough to contain an entire constellation.
The TESS NASA mission is led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is being managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
The TESS telescope was launched in April this year as a replacement for its illustrious predecessor, of the space Observatory "Kepler" discovered thousands of exoplanets in eight years. TESS will study stars 30 to 100 times brighter than Kepler targets and also cover an area of sky 400 times larger than that monitored by Kepler.