It has been more than 50 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy shocked the nation, but the case still generates considerable public interest—particularly fragments from the bullets that killed the president, which have been preserved in a temperature and humidity-controlled vault at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC, for decades. Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently teamed up with forensic experts at the National Archives to digitize the bullets, the better to preserve their features for the conspiracy theorists of tomorrow. All the data should be available in the National Archives' online catalog sometime in early 2020.
There are two fragments of the bullets that killed JFK—one that hit him in the neck and another that hit him in the back of the head—as well as the so-called "stretcher bullet." That's the bullet that struck the president and also Texas Governor John Connally, found lying near the latter's stretcher at the hospital. Also in the archives: two bullets used in a test firing of the assassin's rifle for forensic matching purposes.
The curators from the National Archives were on site while all the analysis was being done, locking up the precious artifacts in a safe every night to ensure their safety. The biggest challenge, according to NIST's Thomas Brian Renegar, was figuring out how to make measurements in sufficient detail to create the kind of 3D models they needed. For instance, "How do we hold the artifacts safely and securely?" he told Ars. "We don't want them moving while we're doing the scans, but we need to hold them carefully so as not to damage the artifacts." The fragments in particular are also badly warped and twisted, making surface scanning difficult.
Source: Ars Technica