Sidney Niccolson
I am a software engineer by training with a background in bio-informatics. I’ve been working mostly on the the electronics and have been constructing several AstroPlant prototypes. I use my new insights and the technology we develop for AstroPlant for my startup on building resilient, open aquaponics systems for extreme environments to mitigate the lack of healthy food in areas with limited resources.

Thomas Churchman
I am a computer science student, fascinated by (and specializing in) data science and artificial intelligence. I am designing and developing AstroPlant’s software systems. Some of the remaining challenges in farming are the design of plant growth recipes and system controllers, which I am tackling from an academic standpoint. I think AstroPlant is solving very important challenges, and is adding value for citizen science and enthusiasts, as well as food production as a whole.

Gernot Kuenzel
I am a designer working on the product and UX, trying to translate all the ideas of smart minds into a beautiful kit that is easy and fun to use and make. I am bringing in my experience from working with several IoT startups, new product development to launch and digital production technologies to help we get the best and right out there. The chance to empower kids to dive into biology and technology while contributing to a bigger mission and a more sustainable future triggered me to join Astroplant.

Daniël Steginga
Daniel is entrepreneur and one of the founders of Border Sessions, the technology conference where AstroPlant was born. As a UX designer, his focus within the project is to ensure that people have a meaningful, interactive, and fun experience with the AstroPlant kit and online interface.

Vincent Frangi
As the embedded systems engineer of the team, I design and prototype the beautiful electronic boards of the AstroPlant kit. I really like the AstroPlant open source mindset and the idea of interesting people to science and engineering projects. I work remotely from Switzerland because the Netherlands are way too flat!

Luuk Muthert
Luuk is our astro-biologist! Well, to be honest he’s still an ‘ordinary’ biologist, but with a strong ambition to contribute to the MELiSSA system. He is responsible for coordinating the work in a way that it makes sense from a scientific perspective, so he in touch with the MELiSSA plant scientists, and works on protocols, decides about the kinds of plants to be used, the nutrition, and provides advice on the grow system design (LEDs etc.).

Thieme Hennis
I am AstroPlant’s ‘mission commander’ in this highly open, distributed and collaborative venture. As you can see I am way too tall for the International Space Station (even though you can move horizontally there). I try to keep everyone engaged and on track, and I apply my expertise in educational design and learning to develop an effective educational strategy for AstroPlant. In fact, I think that AstroPlant has all the potential for highly engaging and rich learning experiences that integrate relevant and challenging topics such as food security, sustainability, (open) technology design, space science, ecology and biology, electronics and coding.

Mark Janssen
I aim to design products and experiences that can improve everyone’s everyday life, happiness and well-being. I would describe myself as a positive team player with a passion for design, people and technology. During the AstroPlant project, I’m involved in designing digital prototypes for the mobile dashboard and I facilitate co-creation sessions with different stakeholders to keep our goals aligned and develop plans for future development.


Raffaella Pappalardo
Raffaella is ESA’s project manager for AstroPlant, and makes sure the project adheres to ESA’s high standards. She’s involved in most aspects of the development and is the AstroPlant ambassador within ESA.

Christophe Lasseur and Christel Paille (ESA/MELiSSA)
Both Christophe and Christel have long been part of ESA’s program to develop a regenerative life support system. The programme MELiSSA, which stands for Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative, is the European Project for developing a closed life support system. It aims to produce food, water and oxygen for manned space missions where otherwise these supplies would result in a tremendous cost.

Gerrit Jan van ‘t Veen (World Startup Factory)
GJ is Daniel’s business partner and has founded several organisations, including World Startup Factory, an international accellerator in The Hague. He is a business coach who helps startups find a market and develop their products. He actively contributes to the development of the business strategy and in growing the AstroPlant network.

Cameron Norris and Richard Hulskens (WeVolver)
WeVolver is an open source hardware community and software development company with offices in the Netherlands, UK, and USA. Their network comprises of half a million makers, DIY-geeks, and hackers around the world who openly share their designs online. They share our vision and help us connect to the wider maker community worldwide.

Michel Behre (Border Sessions)
Michel Behre is founder and organiser of established festivals Crossing Border (culture, music, literature) and Border Sessions (technology, society). He is AstroPlant’s creative advisor bringing new and unexpected ideas and twists to the AstroPlant storyline.

Angelo Vermeulen (TU Delft)
Angelo Vermeulen is a space systems researcher, biologist, and community artist. With his multidisciplinary background, Vermeulen collaborates closely with practicing scientists, while also constructing multimedia installations in galleries and museums, and building communities through design and co-creation. In 2009 he initiated SEAD (Space Ecologies Art and Design), an international network of creatives working in art, science, engineering and advocacy. Its goal is to reshape the future through critical reflection and hands-on experimentation.

Former team members

We thank the contributions of our former team members. And their ongoing engagement.

Seppe Salari
I am doing my master at Wageningen UR on horticulture/insects as food&feed. I am the consultant on everything plant related that goes on in the Astroplant and responsible for building and designing the growth system, in particular the LED configuration. I’m building my on closed loop system at home, where I grow plants, fish, mushrooms and black soldier flies. That’s why I like working on the Astroplant and on the MELiSSA closed loop life support system – we can learn a lot from each other!

Tiago Araujo
Senior mechanical designer currently working in Barcelona.

Davide De Mauro
I am an Industrial Ecologist with a focus in Biosystem and Environmental Engineering. I’ve been mostly involved in the strategic aspects of the project including strategic development, educational strategy and communication content creation. I strongly believe that by joining forces towards a common objective, citizen science projects like AstroPlant work as ‘catalysts’ for human development.