The team came to various conclusions, including that there was no indication of tampering with the slide, and that the lights were positioned symmetrically on the craft. A 2002 reanalysis "using more sophisticated technology confirmed the earlier findings and concluded that ‘the picture was not faked. The experts noted especially that the unique characteristics of the lights are very specific and said such an effect would not occur if the picture was a hoax.'"
In fact, the photographer confessed on July 26, 2011, that he had indeed hoaxed the photograph. The image, which was (twice) deemed authentic by the panel of distinguished scientists and experts, was really of a small piece of triangular Styrofoam spray-painted black with lights attached. The skeptics had been right all along.
Kean acknowledged that the hoaxing posed a serious problem: "If the guy says it was a hoax, we pretty much have to assume it was. We know that he's a liar. He either lied the first time, or he's lying now. I'm going to have to assume that he's telling the truth now, even though there's some questions about it." Belgian UFO expert Patrick Ferryn, who appeared in the History Channel show "Secret Access: UFOs on the Record," which was based on Kean's book, has also concluded that the photo was faked.