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A thermionic bare tether (TBT) is a long conductor coated with a low work-function material. In drag mode, a tether segment extending from anodic end A to a zero-bias point B, with the standard Orbital-motion-limited current collection, is followed by a complex cathodic segment. In general, as bias becomes more negative in moving from B to cathodic end C, one first finds space-charge-limited (SCL) emission covering up to some intermediate point B*, then full Richardson-Dushman (RD) emission reaching from B* to end C. An approximate analytical study, which combines the current and voltage profile equations with results from asymptotic studies of the Vlasov-Poisson system for emissive probes, is carried out to determine the parameter domain covering two limit regimes, which are effectively controlled by just two dimensionless parameters involving ambient plasma and TBT material properties. In one such limit regime, no point B* is reached and thus no full RD emission develops. In an opposite regime, SCL segment BB* is too short to contribute significantly to the current balance. Published by AIP Publishing.
work functions; spacecrafts; plasma interactions; plasma properties and parameters; thermionic emission; short circuit; vlasov equation; electrostatics; display devices; plasma diagnostics