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A radar altimeter, electronic altimeter, reflection altimeter, radio altimeter (RADALT), low range radio altimeter (LRRA) or simply RA, used on aircraft, measures altitude above the terrain presently beneath an aircraft or spacecraft by timing how long it takes a beam of radio waves to reflect from the ground and return to the plane. This type of altimeter provides the distance between the antenna and the ground directly below it, in contrast to a barometric altimeter which provides the distance above a defined datum, usually mean sea level.
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