Professor Israel has experience as principal investigator of balloon- and satellite-borne instrumentation for cosmic-ray astrophysics extending back to his joining the Washington University faculty in 1968. He was principal investigator of the Heavy Nuclei Experiment, which successfully flew on the HEAO-3 spacecraft in 1979-81 measuring abundances of the rare cosmic-ray elements with atomic number (Z) greater than 26, extending up to the very rarest, actinide elements.
During a ten-year period, he was engaged full-time in senior university administrative positions, as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (1987-94) and as Vice Chancellor (1994-97). In July 1997 he returned to full-time research and teaching as Professor of Physics, where he has been a co-investigator on the Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder (TIGER) experiment, an instrument that measures the elemental composition of the rare cosmic rays heavier than Iron, which had a successful 32-day balloon flight circling the Antarctic continent twice during December 2001-January 2002 and a second flight lasting 18 days during December 2003-January 2004. Now he and his colleagues are constructing a new larger Super-TIGER in preparation for its first Antarctic flight scheduled for launch in December 2012.
He also works with co-investigators at Washington University, Caltech, JPL, and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center on analysis of data from the Cosmic Ray Isotope Spectrometer (CRIS) on the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) spacecraft, which has been returning data on the isotopic composition of cosmic rays from near the L1 Lagrange point on the Earth-Sun line since 1997. He is also working with investigators at University of Hawaii, and other institutions on the ANtarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA), a balloon-borne instrument that flew over Antarctica in December 2006 and again two years later to detect extremely high energy (>1018 eV) neutrinos.