This answer to Did Apollo 13 produce any scientific results? begins:

In addition to crashing the Saturn V's S-IVB into the moon to collect seismic data from sensors installed by the crews of Apollo 11 and 12...

How many times were artificially induced seismic events intentionally performed (i.e. things "crashed into the Moon for science")? These could be artificial objects that hit the lunar surface with the primary intention of making seismic signals, or things that were going to hit anyway but had their trajectory optimized or at least monitored in some way in hopes of contributing some information to the seismic analysis.

possibly helpful:

  • $\begingroup$ Do things that were unintentionally crashed into the moon belong among this list :P? Or is it just the ones that resulted in data? $\endgroup$ Apr 19, 2020 at 12:48
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    $\begingroup$ Things like: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LADEE#End_of_mission were intentionally de-orbited, and pictures of the before and after impact zone were captured. That's technically data, albeit not seismic data. Also MIP and other probes were intended to impact, designed for it and captured data during descent. $\endgroup$ Apr 19, 2020 at 12:52
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    $\begingroup$ SMART-1 also impacted the moon's surface at speeds great enough to cause a crater big enough to be seen from earth. "It is hoped that not only will this provide some data simulating a meteor impact, but also that it might expose materials in the ground, like water ice, to spectroscopic analysis." Same with a lot of the Ranger missions, they were photographed by the Lunar Orbiter later on for analysis. $\endgroup$ Apr 19, 2020 at 12:57

1 Answer 1


It runs into the dozens from the Apollo missions, all of them described here. Essentially, three types of experiments were performed:

  • Passive seismic experiments in which data were recorded from the impact of objects. There were nine such events, involving both the crashing of S-IVB rocket stages (as was done with Apollo 13, which started this conversation) and landings of lunar modules.

  • Active seismic experiments with thumpers, basically grenades fired from a cannon over various distances, performed by Apollo 14 and Apollo 16.

  • Another set of seismic experiments done with explosive charges, done by Apollo 17.

The nine items intentionally crashed into the Moon “for science” (seismic events) are:

LM-12    Nov.  20, 1969
S4B-13   Apr.   5, 1970
S4B-14   Feb.   4, 1971
LM-14    Feb.   7, 1971
S4B-15   Jul.  29, 1971
LM-15    Aug.   3, 1971
S4B-16   Apr.  19, 1972
S4B-17   Dec.  10, 1972
LM-17    Dec.  15, 1972
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the speedy answer! I added the nine items here so that if/when the link rots they'll still be here. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Apr 19, 2020 at 12:16
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    $\begingroup$ Why the quote marks around "for science"? $\endgroup$
    – Stu Smith
    Apr 21, 2020 at 6:05
  • $\begingroup$ @StuSmith probably because OP did it, I was going to ask that but it felt nit-picky :P. $\endgroup$ Apr 21, 2020 at 12:45

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