How Long Could Luke Survive in a Tauntaun?

Luke Skywalker survived the arctic conditions of the planet Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back only because Han Solo killed his tauntaun (a native beast of burden) and shoved Luke inside the animal's warm carcass. This led the blog Wolf Gnards to ask, as a practical question, how long could Luke really survive in a tauntaun's body?

In a normal environment, a carcass gets cold in 8 to 36 hours losing an average rate of 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit per hour. However, the ice world of Hoth is not an average environment. The Star Wars database lists that Hoth reaches nightly temperatures of -60 F. In a frigid, sub-zero environment, body heat can be lost almost 32 times faster. This means a Tauntaun's body heat could drop almost 51.2 F every hour. Considering that Han Solo's Tauntaun died of severe hypothermia even before it was cut open with Luke's light saber, one could assume it's core body temperature was already well below normal. 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.


It's an interesting hypothesis, but it should be followed with rigorous scientific testing. Any volunteers?

Link via Forces of Geek | Image: Lucasfilm

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It doesn't have to make sense. This plot device was taken from 'Dersu Uzala' a 1975 film by Kurosawa in which a Russian soldier is saved by his Mongolian guide in a snowstorm by being covered with grass. The character Dersu also has an uncanny resemblance to Yoda as well.
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Yeah, bump V@#9. Han even says, "This may smell bad, kid, but it will keep you warm 'til I get the shelter built." Tauntaun belly haters should watch the movie again with their ears open.
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