Tess lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Wednesday evening local time, riding a SpaceX Falcon rocket. "We just had a ideal countdown and flawless launch of the TESS mission", said Tim Dunn of NASA's Launch Services Program.
The Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to launch in 2020, should be able to reveal more about planets' mass, density and the makeup of their atmosphere - all clues to habitability.
On March 30, a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket successfully launched 10 next-generation satellites out of California.
The TESS mission is expected to find planets ranging from small, rocky worlds to gas giants."Once we're in orbit, we can survive for decades without any additional propulsion".
Manufactured in Orbital ATK's Virginia facility, TESS is the company's 31st science spacecraft in the 35 years it has been collaborating with NASA.
According to NASA TESS will be conducting a sky survey in its two-years time, in which it will cover almost 85 percent of the sky.
The telescope can do this by combining wide-field optics and an efficient search pattern.
"TESS is going to dramatically increase the number of planets that we have to study", Ricker said during a pre-launch briefing. Each of TESS's four cameras can observe an angular area equal to 2,304 full Moons, or the approximate span of the constellation Orion. For this two-year survey mission, scientists divided the sky into 26 sectors.
In the first year of observation, TESS will look at the 13 southern sectors and the following year, it will look for exoplanets in the northern 13 sectors.
NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, has embarked on its hunt for new "habitable planets" around neighbouring stars.
"The sky will become more attractive, will become more awesome" knowing there are planets orbiting the stars we see twinkling at night, said NASA's top science administrator, Thomas Zurbuchen.
The mission is similar in that respect to NASA's Kepler mission, which has so far spotted more than 2600 exoplanets. TESS will monitor thousands of stars simultaneously for such "transits", watching a single section of sky for a month straight before moving on to another.
"By doing those measurements, we hope to actually identify all the worlds we've been dreaming about", Seager said. From Earth's point of view, the mission will cover about 85 percent of the night sky, says NASA. Maybe even an Earth twin.
According to NASA, TESS will collect 27 gigabytes per day in its all-sky search for undiscovered planets orbiting 200,000 stars.