The Planetary Habitability Laboratory (PHL) is a research and educational virtual laboratory dedicated to studies of the habitability of Earth, the Solar System, and exoplanets. The main goal of the PHL is to map the habitable universe via the development and implementation of methods to measure the habitability of planetary bodies. The PHL is directed by Prof. Abel Méndez from the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo with international collaboration from other scientists.

Our main research approach is to use the evolution of terrestrial habitability, from paleoclimates to climate change, as a baseline for planetary habitability studies. Our specific objectives are to (1) develop habitability metrics and classifications, (2) trace the evolution of terrestrial habitability, (3) assess the habitability potential of solar and extrasolar planets, (4) devise tools and methods for ground, orbital, and remote habitability assessments, and (5) create, provide, and facilitate astrobiology science tools for scientist and educators.

The most notable projects of the PHL are the Visible Paleo-Earth (VPE), a photorealistic visual reconstruction of Earth past in the last 750 million years, and the Habitable Exoplanets Catalog (HEC), a listing and comparison of potentially habitable exoplanets.


Abel Méndez, Director, PHL @ UPR Arecibo

Edgard Rivera-Valentín, Co-Investigator, LPI/USRA

Guillermo Nery, Co-Investigator, PHL @ UPR Arecibo

Glorymill Santiago-Labrador, Co-Investigator, ISMuL @ UPR Arecibo


University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo (UPR Arecibo)

UPR High-Performance Computer Facility (HPCf)

University of Puerto Rico (UPR)

NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI)

National Science Foundation (NSF)

NASA Puerto Rico Space Grant Consortium (PR-SGC)

Puerto Rico Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (PR-LSAMP)

Integrated Science Multi-use Laboratory (ISMuL)

The computational resources of the PHL are partially supported by the High Performance Computing Facility (HPCf), the University of Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rico INBRE grant P20 RR-016470 from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and the Institute for Functional Nanomaterials (IFN) award 0701525 from the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) program of the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Contact Information

Prof. Abel Méndez, Director

Planetary Habitability Laboratory

University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo

Email: abel.mendez@upr.edu, Twitter: @ProfAbelMendez

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