Microwave measurements were made of the electron density and the electron collision frequency in the plasma between the shock front and the discharge plasma of electromagnetically produced shock waves. These investigations were carried out in argon and hydrogen at po=2 mm Hg initial pressure and velocities ranging from M=5 to M=20. At higher velocities the discharge plasma advances right into the shock front. A 4-mm-microwave transmission interferometer was used. A system of LECHER wires in the measuring arm of the interferometer provided a spatial resolution of approximately 1 to 2 mm and proved successful in measuring the electron density distribution between the shock front and the following discharge plasma. In the case of hydrogen the rise of the electron density in the shock front is caused by compression of the precursor electrons. In argon, on the other hand, most of the electrons are produced behind the shock front. A typical relaxation of the electron density towards equilibrium was measured. It was also possible to measure the electron collision frequency in argon as a function of time (and hence of the distance from the shock front).
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