The atmospheric infrared sounder (AIRS) is a high resolution IR spectrometer (lambda/(Delta) (lambda) congruent 1200) which will map global temperatures and identify atmospheric aerosols from orbit by monitoring key atmospheric absorption lines. The focal plane consists of ten bilinear photovoltaic (PV) and two photoconductive (PC) HgCdTe detector arrays (modules) sampling a 3.7 to 15.4 micrometer spectral window in 15 bands. To attain the desired temperature accuracy, tight constraints on focal plane performance parameters such as linearity better than 0.1%, quantum efficiency (QE) on the order of 70%, low noise or noise equivalent quantum flux density (NEQFD), and no outages at key spectral lines have been imposed. Assessment of focal plane performance begins at the detector and readout levels where flight candidate detector arrays and CMOS readouts are selected. PV detector arrays and their readouts are hybridized (PC modules are wire-bonded directly) into modules which are then individually tested under simulated flight conditions. Five of the twelve module types are incorporated into an engineering-level (EM) focal plane upon which the module level tests are repeated as a prelude to the fabrication and testing of a separate, fully populated, flight-level (PFM) focal plane. Module testing has demonstrated that many difficult system requirements have been met, and work continues to optimize module performance. Lockheed Martin IR Imaging Systems' (LMIRIS) overall design of the infrared (IR) detector/Dewar assembly and focal plane development program is given, followed by a summary of PV and PC module data.© (1997) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.