About the author

Dirk Heinen

Dr Dirk Heinen researches melting probes and their navigation systems. Melting probes are used to penetrate and explore glaciers and ice shelves and to reach underlying subglacial lakes. Currently, the melting probes are used in terrestrial analogue missions with the aim of being able to explore subglacial oceans of the icy moons Europa and Enceladus in situ in the future.

Since 2010, Dirk Heinen has been conducting research at the III. Physikalischen Institut B of RWTH Aachen University. In his doctoral thesis, he worked on an acoustic localisation system for the EnEx-IceMole melting probe. The EnEx-IceMole was developed as part of the Enceladus Explorer Initiative 'EnEx' of the German Space Agency at DLR in cooperation with six universities. Together with colleagues from the University of Applied Sciences Aachen, he took a subglacial water sample with the EnEx-IceMole at Blood Falls, on the Taylor Glacier in Antarctica, in 2014. Since then, Dirk Heinen has been developing and researching various melting probes and acoustic instrumentation. Since 2018, he has mainly been researching the TRIPLE-IceCraft. The TRIPLE-IceCraft is a melting probe to explore ice bodies several hundred metres thick. In spring 2023, he will lead the deployment of the TRIPLE-IceCraft melting probe in the Antarctic Ekstrom Ice Shelf at Neumayer Station III.

Posts from Dirk Heinen

Space | 30. March 2023

TRIPLE-IceCraft Expedition to Antarctica – Drilling through the ice shelf - part 5

All of us on the team have been working towards this moment for the last few years: we will finally be able to operate our TRIPLE-IceCraft probe on the ice shelf and drill a deep hole there! The probe will now have to prove itself, and we are all very excited. After the successful four-metre-deep test drilling at Neumayer Station III a few days ago, we are optimistic and highly motivated. read more

Space | 14. March 2023

TRIPLE-IceCraft expedition to Antarctica – final system tests and completion of preparations for drilling – part 4

Soon it will be time for the big test of our TRIPLE-IceCraft probe, which is to melt its way through the almost 100-metre-thick ice shelf north of Neumayer Station III. But before that, we still have to perform final system checks and make a first test borehole. read more

Space | 28. February 2023

TRIPLE IceCraft Expedition to Antarctica – first functional tests of the melting probe – Part 3

The seventh day of our Antarctic expedition to test the TRIPLE-IceCraft melting probe begins for me and all the new arrivals in our segregated living area: our joint COVID-19 test is scheduled with the station doctor and manager. Thankfully, all new arrivals have tested negative! The isolation and mask-wearing are over! read more

Space | 08. February 2023

TRIPLE IceCraft Expedition to Antarctica - preparations can begin - part 2

At the time of our arrival at Neumayer Station III. Technically it is morning, but the long journey has messed up my internal clock. It will take a few days for my sense of time to return to normal. In the meantime, we are settling in and recovering a bit from the journey. To prevent any COVID-19 infections in the station, all 10 new arrivals are isolating: we are wearing masks inside the station, using different lounges, bedrooms and bathrooms, and eating at different times in the mess hall. read more

Space | 03. February 2023

TRIPLE-IceCraft expedition to Antarctica – the long way south – part 1

Some regions on Earth are as mysterious as distant celestial bodies – but equally explored. These include subglacial lakes in Antarctica. These lakes lie under a permanent layer of ice, often several kilometres thick, and sometimes form an ecosystem that has been closed off for about a million years. read more