Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Michael S. F. Kirk

(Research Astrophysicist)

Michael S. F. Kirk's Contact Card & Information.
Org Code: 670
Mail Code 670
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Brief Bio

Dr. Michael Kirk is a research scientist in the Heliophysics Science Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. He is the Principal Investigator of NASA's Heliophysics Education Activation Team (NASA HEAT). Dr. Kirk is a Co-investigator on the SunCET CubeSat mission, launching in 2024. In addition, he is helping to lead NASA Goddard’s Center for HelioAnalytics which seeks to integrate data science into heliophysics to better the physics of the sun, the causes of solar variability, and its impacts on Earth.

Dr. Kirk received his Ph.D. in Astronomy from New Mexico State University, where his research focused on automated tracking of chromospheric bright points and their connection to solar eruptions. During this time, he also worked for the Air Force Research Laboratory at the National Solar Observatory in Sunspot, NM. Upon graduation, in 2013, he joined the Heliophysics division as a fellow with the NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP).

After receiving his Bachelor’s degree from Whitman College and prior to entering graduate school, Dr. Kirk first worked at Goddard Space Flight Center in 2007 as a systems engineer researching the changing position and size of the polar coronal holes throughout the solar cycle.

Dr. Kirk grew up in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Outside of work he enjoys discovering new music and experimenting with home-roasting coffee.

Research Interests

Automated Solar Image Processing

Heliophysics: Solar Atmosphere

Using several computer vision techniques, efficiently segment solar images into transient, regularly variant, and consistent phenomena.

Anatomy of Chromospheric Flares and Associated Ephemeral Brightenings

Heliophysics: Solar Active Regions

Identify, track, and characterize small-scale brightening associated with solar eruptive phenomena observed in Hα. 

Solar Cycle Variations in Polar Coronal Holes

Heliophysics: Solar Atmosphere

Create automated tracking and characterization of polar coronal holes over multiple solar cycles to causally connect the topology of coronal holes to the heliosphere.


Heliophysics: Solar Atmosphere

Look for innovative techniques to understand and effectively utilize the vast archive of solar information that we as a community generate. This includes the entire range of solar data, from images to spectra and meta-data.