A spectroscopic study of gliding ablative discharges has been carried out on N2, CO2, and lasing mixtures of TEA CO2 lasers. By spectroscopic plasma diagnosis techniques (local thermodynamic equilibrium assumed) we observed an inhomogeneous transversal distribution of the ablated elements. Electronic temperature and density transversal distributions are, however, fairly homogeneous. We also found a different ablation threshold for two ablated substrate elements. The ablation threshold seems to be related to the plasma current density. The results are of practical interest in the UV preionization of TEA CO2 lasers.
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