"I'm thrilled that our new planet hunter mission is ready to start scouring our solar system's neighborhood for new worlds", said Paul Hertz, NASA Astrophysics division director at Headquarters, Washington.
NASA's TESS satellite is being operated by scientists who work at MIT, while scientists who work at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center are managing this large project. The first scientific data the device will transmit to Earth in August.
"With possibly more planets than stars in our universe, I look forward to the unusual, fantastic worlds we're bound to discover", said Hertz.
NASA's exoplanet-hunting satellite TESS is fully operational and has begun scanning the skies for distant planets, NASA reported on Friday.
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TESS stands for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite; the spacecraft is created to search the sky, identifying exoplanets and sending the data back to researchers. Transits can provide information on when a planet might be passing in front of its star. The space agency plans for this mission to last two years, during which time it will likely find thousands of new planets.
For updates on the progress of the mission, there is an official NASA TESS Twitter account, as well as an official website that the space agency has maintained since the development and construction stages of the telescope.
The mission will spend the next two years monitoring the nearest and brightest stars for periodic dips in their light.
The telescope has four cameras, each with a 16.8 megapixel sensor.
"We learned from Kepler that there are more planets than stars in our sky, and now TESS will open our eyes to the variety of planets around some of the closest stars", said Hertz prior to the satellite's launch.
TESS is also notable because its observations will broaden the path for NASA's upcoming James Webb space telescope, which is going to be the most powerful telescope in the history of mankind.