With deep sadness, SSERVI mourns the loss of our friend and colleague, Mike Wargo, who passed away unexpectedly over the weekend. This news comes as a great shock to us all, and he will be missed terribly. In our grief, let us remember how Mike inspired us with his inexhaustible energy and enthusiasm, his hearty laugh and booming voice, and his dedication to NASA.

Mike was HEOMD’s chief exploration scientist, and his contributions to human exploration were many. He represented the directorate on the science teams for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and LCROSS missions, and most recently, he was a member of the Mars 2020 Science Definition Team. Mike led by example, working closely with colleagues in the lunar, planetary, and Mars science communities, to build collaborative and highly productive projects for both Exploration and Science.

Please keep his wife Adele and his family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. We will let you know about plans for the funeral and a NASA memorial service once they have been made.

This tribute was posted on NASAWatch and on the LEAG website:

The Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) on behalf of the broader lunar community wishes to expresses its deep shock and sadness at the news that Dr. Mike Wargo passed away unexpectedly over the weekend of August 3-4, 2013. Mike was the Executive Secretary of LEAG and championed the Moon at NASA HQ.

While his advice of patience may have been difficult to accept at times, it was invariably correct. He was also a believer in and a champion of the Moon and the Lunar Exploration Roadmap, which he helped construct through sound advice and coordination of roadmapping meetings. Mike was also a champion of the Specific Action Teams, through which LEAG has conducted many analyses for NASA.

Mike exuded an infectious passion, dedication, and enthusiasm for forging closer ties between science and exploration at NASA, which he achieved because of his encyclopedic knowledge of science and exploration issues that are involved with human spaceflight. Mike’s passion for science and exploration can be seen in this 2009 video where he described the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission.

In addition to LEAG meetings, Mike was ever-present at meetings of the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG) and the driving force behind defining and filling the Strategic Knowledge Gaps that grew out of the Space Policy changes of 2010 that occurred with the change in the US administration. Above all, he was a gentleman who was friendly, helpful, and considerate. His larger-than-life personality was accentuated by his laugh and his ability to always share a joke! We wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Adele, and his family at this time. We are indebted to him for his contributions to LEAG, as well as lunar science and exploration. Mike – you are already missed.

Obituary published in the New York Times:

Michael J. WARGO, Chief Exploration Scientist for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission, died unexpectedly on August 4 at his home in Alexandria, VA. He was 61 years old. Dr. Wargo was the son of Margaret and John J. Wargo of Clairton, PA, both deceased, who themselves were the children of Slovak immigrants. Michael was a leading contributor to NASA’s human lunar and planetary exploration program. As a scientific member of many lunar missions, including the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the LCROSS satellite, Dr. Wargo helped map resources for human missions to the moon and participated in the discovery of ice in the shadows of lunar craters. In a nearly two-decade career at NASA, he received numerous awards including NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal and seven group achievement awards. He was a member of the team planning the next robotic mission to Mars in 2020 and worked gathering crucial scientific information needed to allow humans to be sent safely to the moon, Mars and near-Earth asteroids. Much of his work has helped develop a “roadmap” for human and robotic space exploration for the next two decades. Dr. Wargo graduated from M.I.T., with an SB degree in Earth and Planetary Science and received a Doctorate in Materials Science in 1982. At MIT, he was recognized with the John Wulff Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Hugh Hampton Young Memorial Fund Prize for exhibiting leadership and creativity while maintaining exceptionally broad and interdisciplinary interests. He began his career at NASA by turning a fledgling microgravity research division into a worldclass program. NASA drew on Dr. Wargo’s ability to explain complex scientific findings in straightforward terms as a spokesman at agency press conferences. NASA is asking the International Astronomical Union to name a crater on the moon in his honor “so his name will be forever enshrined in the heavens.” His colleagues and his friends remember him as inspirational, full of passion and energy, with a booming voice and a great heart. He is survived by his wife, Adele Morrissette of New York, NY, and brothers John, David and Robert, all of whom graduated from M.I.T. Visitation will be held on Sunday afternoon August 11, at Everly-Wheatley Funeral Home and funeral services will be held on Monday August 12 at 12:30pm at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, both in Alexandria VA. Gifts may be made to MIT in memory of Michael Wargo for the Department of Materials Science Endowed Fellowship Fund by contacting Bonny Kellerman, bonnyk@mit.edu or at 617-253-9722.

Posted by: Soderman/SSERVI Staff
Source: NASA

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