One of my favorite scenes in The Empire Strikes Back is when Han Solo rescues Luke Skywalker on Hoth. When Han finds Luke stranded outside the rebel base, Luke’s been injured in a Wampa attack and is near freezing and delirious. To keep his friend alive until he can build their shelter for the night, Han uses Luke’s lightsaber to cut open his tauntaun (which had dropped dead from the cold just as Han found Luke) and secures his friend inside the animal.
Now, thanks to protocol droid C-3PO, who translates R2-D2’s calculations, we know that the odds of surviving the night in sub-zero temperature outside the Hoth rebel base are 725 to 1 (although, we don’t know if this is with spending the night in a shelter or just out there exposed to the elements). Considering the dire situation Luke was in, his odds of survival were even worse. That means that Han had to get that shelter built right away.
The folks over at Wolf Gnards wondered, as most of us have as well, how long could Luke have survived inside that tauntaun, especially since the animal had already died of severe hypothermia itself? According to their calculations, Han had about 56 minutes to build that shelter before Luke died of hypothermia.
The problem for Luke is if the Tauntaun’s body temperature reaches freezing point those once toasty guts, blood, and assorted alien goo, will in fact become a frozen coffin. If the Tauntaun died of cardiac arrest due to hypothermia with an average body temperature of 75 F (23 C), and if Tauntaun blood freezes at 28.4 F (-2 C), then Han has roughly 56 minutes to set up a shelter before Luke once again is in danger of losing his life in the barren wasteland of Hoth.
One would have to assume that shelters in the Star Wars universe are made to be easily assembled in emergency situations. Also, Han himself would be in danger of hypothermia being outside at night on Hoth as well, so he would have had to get that shelter up very quickly.
The next morning, when Han and Luke are rescued, we don’t really see where they actually spent the night. What I always wondered is, what kind of shelter would you need to survive the night on Hoth? This is sub-zero temperature, so it’s not like any old tent will do.
By the way, my 12-year-old nephew recently survived the night on the floor of my spare room snuggled up inside my new Tauntaun Sleeping Bag. Granted, the temperatures weren’t extreme like on Hoth, but the environment was at times hostile, as my youngest cat Mars has a habit of attacking people’s hands and feet while they sleep. Luckily, the sleeping bag provides cover for your feet and if you want, your hands as well.
[Source via Star Wars; banner by Empress Eve]