Astrodynamics Engineer, Planet
Bhavi Jagatia is an Astrodynamics Engineer at Planet, a position she took on after completing a successful internship for the Orbits R&D team. While at Planet, she has made significant improvements to the tasking system for the company’s high-resolution constellation of imaging satellites, SkySats. Bhavi was initially tasked with evaluating the complex schedule for SkySats, identifying areas of improvement and implementing changes to increase the collection capacity of the fleet. Her work resulted in substantial fulfillment enhancements, and she is now the sole owner and developer of the tool for her team. Bhavi received her Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University, which she attended on the prestigious Tata scholarship. During her studies at Cornell, she worked with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) on a project to investigate the use of flux-pinning on orbiting sample capture for a Mars sample return mission. Bhavi served as avionics lead for the project and participated in a microgravity test aboard a Zero-G flight with the JPL team. She also led Cornell’s project team for NASA’s Micro-G NExT competition while completing her studies and worked in internships at Boeing’s research lab, ASML, and Honda Aircraft Company.
In addition to her success with SkySats, Bhavi has made several other major contributions to Planet since joining the team. Her team developed algorithms to schedule repeatable sunglint images as part of the mission design for Planet’s upcoming hyperspectral imaging satellite constellation. While considering various approaches to validate the tasking model, Bhavi proposed the novel idea of implementing their strategy on Planet’s currently in-orbit satellites as a proof-of-concept experiment. She quickly taught herself the basics of tasking on Dove satellites and wrote scripts to add a new high off-nadir imaging strategy. Bhavi was able to validate her colleagues’ scheduling model by capturing sunglint images on an end-of-life Dove satellite, and her work was published and presented at AIAA Scitech 2023 and IEEE Aerospace 2023, where it received the Best Paper award. She also suggested creating a tool that can be used to systematically assess improvements made by ongoing code changes as part of an effort to improve the orbit determination (OD) system that Planet uses for its satellites. Bhavi personally created a tool that benchmarks the results of a suggested change against the current projection OD system and visualizes the difference. The tool has enabled her and her team to rapidly envision the results of their development efforts, dramatically reducing the amount of time required to accomplish their tasks and missions.
Outside of work, Bhavi dedicates her time to increasing diversity in STEM and, most particularly, the aerospace industry. She served as the President of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) chapters and as the Professional Chair for the international Women of Aerospace and Astronautics (WoAA) during her university years. In these roles, Bhavi organized professional development events, helped students connect with industry professionals and started a mentorship program. She currently volunteers with Ignite by serving as a panelist and sharing her knowledge with girls and non-binary youth at underprivileged schools in the Bay Area and recently organized a field trip for students from a local middle school to tour Planet. At the company, Bhavi volunteers with the Asian & Pacific Islander (API) and WonderWomen ERGs and served as the intern lead for the Orbits R&D internship for summer 2023, a position in which she scoped out projects for the intern to work on and helped teach the intern about the team’s tools and processes.