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The main characteristics of accelerated aluminum targets, which are the target velocity, the uniformity of the acceleration and the backside temperature have been studied in laser experiments performed at wavelength 0.26 μm with an absorbed flux of a few 1013 W/cm2, in 400‐ps pulse duration by using the double‐foil technique and an optical pyrometry diagnostic: The ablation pressure was inferred from the velocity measurements. The uniformity of the acceleration was shown to be controlled by the hot spots in the focal spot, and the importance of studying the smoothing of laser inhomogeneities for accelerated targets with large ablated fractions was emphasized. The observed dependence of the backside temperature as a function of the initial foil thickness is discussed in the light of shock wave heating and radiative heating.