At this afternoon's MSL teleconference Robin Cook and John Grotzinger reported that the activities were going well. The first two scoops were discarded and didn't make it to Chemin due to concerns about possible contamination by spacecraft debris since some bright specks were spotted in the scoop trenches. It was concluded the these specks were indiginous Martian material since they were about the same size as the other grains in the trench. The third scoop was placed on the observation tray to be checked out prior to sending it to Chemin. The sample consisted of a light toned fine grained component along with some larger dark specks that was spread horizontally on the tray. [see telecon images] Grotzinger also said that MSL reported just before the teleconference that the third scoop did make it to Chemin. He said the light toned material on the tray may have whited out.
The saturation problem happens when all the RGB values for a pixel are greater than or equal to 255, which is the upper bound for the value, as a result of high photon counts. When all three components have this value the pixel appears to be white in color.
These first scoops are being used to remove the remains of contaminants from Earth. Sand is being used to scrub the sampling and transfer apparatus. The sand has a very large surface area and the amount of contaminants present can be reduced through contact with the sand and subsequently discarding the it.