The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, is scheduled to blast off on Monday (April 16) from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
Over the past ten years, NASA has studied thousands of these so-called exoplanets exhibiting a wide array of characteristics, from molten lava surfaces to the raining down of rubies and sapphires.
NASA now expects to add thousands more to its list.
"We think TESS is really going to build upon this diversity and reveal even more worlds that further push our imagination and our understanding of how planets form and evolve," said Jennifer Burt, a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
She said the mission could also "tell us if planets like the earth are common or relatively unique out in the galaxy."
Part of its quest will be probing for signs of life that could be investigated on future space missions.