SESAR² offers services to advance the management and sharing of samples in the Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences. SESAR²‘s services support a community of scientific researchers who value open access, discovery and sharing of samples and sample metadata in an effort to promote a workplace of collaboration.

SESAR²’s services are developed and operated with and for a diverse community that includes:

  • Researchers who collect, curate, and use samples in their research projects, and publish sample-based observations and measurements
  • Institutions that house and manage research sample collections, including sample or core repositories, museums, research departments, laboratories, and others
  • Developers and data management specialists, who build and maintain data infrastructure for sample data and metadata
  • Publishers of Earth, environmental, and planetary science journals, who support open, transparent, and reproducible science
  • Funders who support the collection, analysis, and curation of physical samples

SESAR²‘s sample catalog represents an extremely valuable resource for the sample community. The catalog allows researchers to discover existing samples that are relevant to their research, and the identity of the registrant, which aids in locating the samples’ current location.

The SESAR² Catalog Search allows users to

  • Search the SESAR² catalog by geospatial information, sample type, sample classification, archive, and other criteria.
  • View individual sample profiles.
  • View samples locations on maps.
  • Download lists of samples.

The SESAR² Catalog Search can be found here.

SESAR² can help you, your collaborators, and your institution manage samples efficiently and effectively. By registering your samples with SESAR², you will:

  • Create an inventory of your samples
  • Ensure preservation of all information about your samples
  • Allow researchers to discover your samples to start new collaborations


MySESAR is your private working space in the System for Earth and Extraterrestrial Sample Registration. MySESAR allows you to:

  • Obtain IGSNs for your samples by registering them with SESAR².
    • Register samples one at a time by entering metadata into a web form.
    • Generate customized SESAR² spreadsheet forms to register multiple samples at once.
  • View and edit metadata profiles of samples you have registered.
  • Upload images, field notes, maps, and links publications and data to sample profiles.
  • Transfer ownership of a sample to another SESAR² user.
  • Restrict access to metadata profiles of your samples.

See our FAQ on ‘Getting Started‘ to learn more about creating a MySESAR account.

SESAR² allows users to store sample metadata in an easily accessible, shareable and discoverable manner. SESAR² also acts as a central location for lab groups and collaborators to store sample metadata. Registering a sample in SESAR² allows for a sample’s history to be tracked as it is passed from one investigator to another.

In addition, SESAR² Curators assist with metadata review as part of our Batch Registration process, and when onboarding new users to our Web Services.  SESAR² Curators are available to guide you through the submission process, map your metadata to SESAR²‘s metadata fields, and validate your metadata against SESAR²‘s requirements.  For assistance, contact us at

IGSN stands for International Generic Sample Number. The IGSN is an alphanumeric code that uniquely identifies samples (for example: rock specimens, water samples, sediment cores, experimental charges), as well as related sampling features (sites, stations, stratigraphic sections, etc.).

As part of our registration services, SESAR² is an ‘Allocating Agent’ for the IGSN e.V., the implementation organization of the IGSN.  We provide IGSN during the registration process, and maintain the metadata profile pages that IGSN ‘resolve’ to. In addition to the registration metadata required by the IGSN e.V., SESAR² collects and maintains descriptive metadata unique to the SESAR² community.

Except in special cases*, IGSNs obtained from SESAR² are 9 characters long in addition to the shared SESAR² prefix 10.58052. Allocating Agents other than SESAR² may have different syntax, but all are guaranteed to be globally unique via a central registry.


1) IGSN:10.58052/HRV003M16   (Registered object: Malachite specimen from Angola, registered by the Mineralogical Museum of Harvard University)

2) IGSN:10.58052/WHO000BC7  (Registered object: Dredge CHAIN35-2 St18 D18, registered by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Syntax for IGSNs from SESAR² :

The IGSN is a “mostly unintelligent” identifier. For IGSNs assigned after June 2014, the first five characters of the IGSN represent a namespace (what SESAR² refers to as a User Code) that uniquely identifies the person or institution who registers the sample. The name space is has two segments, the first two characters beginning with IE, followed by 3 characters of the registrant’s choosing. The last 4 characters of the IGSN are a random string of alphanumeric characters (0-9, A-Z). The IGSN follows the syntax of the URN (Uniform Resource Name) which is composed of a ‘Namespace Identifier’ (NID) or user code, which is a unique, short string, and the ‘Namespace Specific String’ (NSS).

The length of the IGSN has been limited to 9* characters to keep it short enough for use on sample labels and for inclusion in data tables of publications. The IGSN is long enough for large institutions such as repositories or museums to register large numbers of samples (with 10 numbers plus 26 letters for the 4 random characters after the user code, a total of 36^4 = 1,679,616 sample identifiers per namespace or user code are available).

IGSN namespaces (user codes) that were obtained before July 2014 may have three character namespaces (user codes) followed by a random string of 6 alphanumeric characters (e.g. examples #1 and # 2 above). For more information see this news item.

As of January 2023, IGSNs now follow the DataCite DOI format which includes the addition of a prefix to the existing IGSN structure. SESAR²‘s shared prefix for sample registrations is 10.58052.

*Starting in July 2017, SESAR² users were allowed to register samples with IGSNs of up to 32 characters in length (0-9, A-Z, ‘-‘, ‘.’). This syntax follows recommendations of the IGSN e.V. The extended syntax is primarily intended for use by large repositories, where it may be necessary to use hierarchical syntax conventions. However, with human readability in mind as well as the fact that the IGSNs appear on-line and in print, the IGSN e.V. recommends that the IGSN should be as concise as possible. If you are considering assigning IGSNs to your samples that are longer than 9 characters, please contact to discuss.

SESAR² offers a set of REST web services to allow client programs to interact with SESAR² systems. SESAR² REST web services allows for client programs to perform acts such as registering samples, search for lists of IGSN based on geospatial polygons and updating sample metadata. For more information on SESAR² web services and how to access them see our technical documentation (SESAR² GitHub). SESAR² also provides WMS and WFS for external application integration.