The interior structures of planets are attracting more and more detailed attention; these studies could be of great value in improving our understanding of the early evolution of Earth. Seismological investigations of planet interiors rely primarily on seismic waves excited by seismic events. Since tectonic activities are much weaker on other planets, e.g. Mars, the magnitudes of their seismic events are much smaller than those on Earth. It is therefore a challenge to detect seismic events on planets using such conventional techniques as short-time average/long-time average (STA/LTA) triggers. In pursuit of an effective and robust scheme to detect small-magnitude events on Mars in the near future, we have taken Apollo lunar seismic observations as an example of weak-activity data and developed an event-detection scheme. The scheme reported here is actually a two-step processing approach: the first step involves a despike filter to remove large-amplitude impulses arising from large temperature variations; the second step employs a matched filter to unmask the seismic signals from a weak event hidden in the ambient and scattering noise. The proposed scheme has been used successfully to detect a moonquake that was not in the known moonquake catalogue, demonstrating that the two-step strategy is a feasible method for detecting seismic events on planets. Our scheme will provide a powerful tool for seismic data analysis of the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission, and China’s future lunar missions.