InGaAs ternary compound is suitable for detector applications in the shortwave infrared (SWIR) band. Due to the advantages of good stability, low cooling requirements and high detectivity, InGaAs detectors have been applied widely in the space remote sensing area. However, InGaAs detectors would be affected by strong sunlight direct irradiation in space application. In this paper, a mesa-type InGaAs detector with large sensitive area of diameter 5mm was designed based on InP/In0.53Ga0.47As/InP epitaxial material, which is lattice-matched to InP substrate. The InGaAs detectors were fabricated by ICP etching, and packaged in a Kovar shell. The relative spectral response is in the range of 0.9μm to 1.7μm. The mechanism of the sunlight direct irradiation on InGaAs detector performance was studied. The sunlight were focalized by lens and irradiated directly on the detector. A piece of epitaxial material was investigated at the same time which was cleaved from a 2 inch wafer, same to the detector material. The real time testing was taken out to observe the output signal of the detector. After the irradiation experiment, the I-V curves and the relative response were tested immediately. The dark current of the detector increased temporarily, but come back to the original level after 24 hours. The response spectrum was nearly not affected. The XRD testing of the epitaxial material sample was carried out before and after sunlight direct irradiation. The sunlight irradiation causes thermal stress degradation. The thermal electrons were produced by the absorption of a great deal of visible light, leading to local enhancement of temperature and the lattice degeneration of the material.