The Virtual Observatory
Solar system Open Database Network

Version: 1.0.1 2023-01-09


The SsODNet service aims to build the core of a VO-compliant information system dedicated to the solar and extrasolar system objects. It is developped and maintained by the VO team of IMCCE (J. Berthier, J. Normand and F. Vachier) in collaboration with B. Carry and M. Mahlke of the Lagrange laboratory of the Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur (OCA).

The core of SsODNet is a name resolver. SsODNet.quaero allows to identify solar and extrasolar system objects from their official name, or number, or provisional designation, or any of the multiple names that an object can have over time. It allows to explore the naming of bodies using wildcard, regular expression, or fuzziness. The name of an object can also be resolved into its celestial coordinates at a given epoch, when the knowledge of its dynamical properties is sufficient.

SsODNet is also a data aggregator, thought to allow planetary scientists to gather dynamical and physical parameters of Solar System objects. Collections of dynamical and physical parameters are available through SsODNet.datacloud, the best estimates of these parameters for a given object are available through SsODNet.ssoCard, and all data at once through the SsODNet.ssoBFT.

Solar system bodies

The knowledge database of SsODNet contains an exhaustive list of designations of Solar System Objects (SSOs): planets, natural satellites, asteroids, comets, spacecrafts, and spacejunks orbiting the Earth, together with extrasolar planets.

Two groups, under the auspices of the IAU Division F are in charge to name objects and features in the Solar System. One is the Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN) and the other is the Committee for Small Body Nomenclature (CSBN). The WGPSN names features on planets, satellites, and asteroids, as well as planets (though so far the IAU has never named a planet) and natural satellites of major planets. The CSBN names all other small bodies (minor planets, satellites of minor planets, comets).

As of today, there is no official names for exoplanets assigned by the IAU. The public names, assigned through a public naming process such as NameExoWorlds, is distinguished from the official scientific designation, which follows the rules of the system used for designating multiple-star systems as adopted by the IAU.

Spacecraft are usually named by their funders (space agencies, laboratories, or companies). They are also assigned an International Designator (COSPAR ID), under the responsibility of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) of the International Council for Science (ICSU), and a Satellite Catalog Number (NORAD ID) attributed by the United States Space Command (USSPACECOM). Spacecraft together with launchers, payloads, and space debris are indexed for safety and cooperation purposes.

SsODNet names and aliases are gathered from the following sources:


The best client to explore SsODNet data is the Python package rocks. From the command line or via a notebook, for normal users or developers, it allows to identify SSOs, but also to retrieve and explore asteroid, aka space-rocks, data from SsODNet.

SsODNet can also be used via its Web service API, which offer the following methods (HTTP + XML + SOAP + WSDL):

Sso name resolver

low level API to identify and explore (extra)solar system object names, and to resolve them into celestial coordinates (for developers)
high level API based on quaero service (for normal user)

Sso datasets

to explore all the properties of asteroids and dwarf planets from the collected datasets
to get the best estimates of dynamical and physical properties of a target
to get in a single file all the best estimates of dynamical and physical properties of all SSOs

Administrative method

to get the availability of the SsODNet Web service. Check now!

Practical use

The SsODNet service is a SaaS which allows to access methods to gather identity and data of (extra)solar system objects through a REST API and SOAP requests, or by using Virtual Observatory applications. The underlying technology (REST and XML+SOAP+WSDL) being inherently interoperable, you can use them and implement them regardless of what your favourite platform and operating system are. For that, you can freely download toolkits to help you to make the integration of the SsODNet service seamless with your code.

If your favorite programming langage is Python, you may use the rocks API to call SsODNet methods. See the tutorials to learn how to do.

Scientific issues

Faced with a huge amount of data, astronomers must search in many different sources of data to gather information on their Solar System Objects of interest. Moreover, data formats differ from one source to another. SsODNet aims to address this issue by proposing a unique end-point to collect dynamical and physical properties of bodies (datacloud), as well as the best estimates of these parameters based on scientific choices (ssoCard).

All details are published in Berthier et al., 2022. The full list of bibliographic references used to build the datacloud can be downloaded as a PDF document, or in bibTeX format.

Technical issues

The global architecture of SsODNet is composed of three layers: a user interface, a data access layer, and a data cloud.

The user interface acts as a client of the service. It gathers the parameters, composes the user's request, and posts the request to the end points of SsODNet. A simple way to do this is to use a data transfert program, such as curl or wget, and to send HTTP requests to the Web API (recommended to normal users), or directly to the Web service or the REST APIs (recommended to developers). A personal Web interface can easily be developed to handle the requests and display the results. Feel free to make your own.

SsODNet data can be retrieved and explored in several ways:

  • a Python API, rocks, allows full interaction with SsODNet,
  • a low level REST API, quaero, provides an easy and fast method to resolve and to explore the naming of (extra)solar system objects (public interface)
  • a high level Web service API, built upon a XML+SOAP technology (public interface, SsODNet server), allows to resolve SSO names (resolver) and to retrieve all the dynamical and physical properties of one or more SSO (datacloud),
  • a REST API to retrieve the best estimates of the dynamical and physical properties of a given SSO (ssocard),
  • a broad and flat table (ssoBFT) that compiles all the properties for all SSOs.

The datacloud refers to all the data which are collected and stored in the SsODNet databases, powered by Elasticsearch and MariaDB database engines.

The ssoCard refers to the set of best estimates of the properties of a SSO grouped in a JSON document (metadata mapping).

The celestial coordinates provided by the name resolver are computed by the Miriade Web service. The coordinates of the extrasolar planets are obtained through the PADC TAP service of the Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia. Their ephemerides are computed by Miriade, and are based on the celestial coordinates (proper motion, parallaxe, ...) of the parent stars collected via the API of the SIMBAD astronomical database.

User support

Each response sent back by the SsODNet service contains a ticket number. This 18 digits number (e.g. 176579530759880420) identifies each request and may be help us to retrieve information on its processing. If you face errors by using the SsODNet service (it could occur that no relevant error message is returned), please report us the ticket number corresponding to the problem. It will help us to understand and solve it, and you will help us to improve the service.

The information regarding requests sent to SsODNet is stored in a dedicated database. No personal information is stored, except the anonymized IP address provided by the client, which is only employed to make statistics on the geographical localization of the SsODNet users. The SsODNet logs are never disseminated nor sent on request.

If you are confronted with a bug, or if you would like to request improvements or special needs, please use the IMCCE Mantis Bug Tracker (Quick access: use the Report issue button in the portal menubar).

How to cite SsODNet

If SsODNet was helpful for your research work, the following acknowledgment would be appreciated:

This research has made use of IMCCE's SsODNet VO service (

You can also cite the article presenting SsODNet:

       author = {{Berthier}, J. and {Carry}, B. and {Mahlke}, M. and {Normand}, J.},
        title = "{SsODNet: Solar system Open Database Network}",
      journal = {\aap},
     keywords = {astronomical databases: miscellaneous, catalogs, minor planets, asteroids: general, Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics, Astrophysics - Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics},
         year = 2023,
        month = mar,
       volume = {671},
          eid = {A151},
        pages = {A151},
          doi = {10.1051/0004-6361/202244878},
archivePrefix = {arXiv},
       eprint = {2209.10697},
 primaryClass = {astro-ph.EP},
       adsurl = {},
      adsnote = {Provided by the SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System}